William Hamilton
William Hamilton

Lasting kindness

“It may not seem like much to you, but you just saved my life.” So said a frail woman who had just been helped onto a Manhattan bus. She was thanking dancer Carolyn Adams for her help. As the woman spoke, she handed Carolyn a small prayer book. She cherishes that tiny book that still sits on her mantle. Any life can be changed in an instant by the smallest kindness.

I’m sure you know this to be true. The feeling can be magical, particularly when you are told of the impact of your kindness or when you inform another person of how lasting their gesture remains inside you.

That lasting, tender influence is woven into the fabric of this week’s portion of Torah. Atop the forehead of the High Priest something called the tzitz was carefully positioned (Ex. 28:36).  Its inscription “Holy to God” was worn to radiate a particular kind of goodness, one that is dear to God. In our day, garments are adorned with tzitzit fringes in order to inch forward a similar reminder to engage in handsome gestures.

Something profound happened this week on our synagogue’s campus. It feels so fitting. For the first time in nearly a year, KI was bustling again. What program could possibly feel safe and worthy to warrant a significant gathering at at time like this? An historic initiative to save lives by inoculating Holocaust Survivors with the COVID vaccine.

More than 120 received them thanks to the inspiration, leadership, and flawless implementation of our dear friend and teacher Rabbi Dani Eskow. One survivor sweetly said, “I’m looking forward to a happier future now.”

It’s been an excruciating year. We’ve tried to be careful and kind. Whether or not we’re fully aware, our nerves may be fraying. Now is the time to seek out those occasions for good deeds that await being noticed. Your stepping forward in such moments, may indeed become the life-saving answer to someone else’s prayer.

About the Author
Rabbi William Hamilton has served as rabbi (mara d'atra) of Kehillath Israel in Brookline, MA since 1995.
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