My inspiration, speaker Danny Siegel comes to town to speak….

What an amazing honor and privilege it was to spend the weekend learning and sharing with Danny Siegel, founder of the Ziv Tzedakah fund ( Danny’s organization was one that I have donated to for the past couple of years although I learned of his work when I was a teenager. I had originally hoped that others would be inspired as well by Danny’s work when I started my blog nearly 2 years ago. He came for a “Shabbaton” or weekend retreat at the synagogue and I had several opportunities to learn from him. He is not only an inspiration but knows how to encourage and motivate people to go make a difference.

Some easy mitzvah projects we discussed, giving gloves to homeless people if you are uncomfortable giving them money on the street, donating a book to a local school to give to a child who can’t buy one, recycling the crayons used by a restaurant to schools or under served children or starting a video donation to a local hospital for kids to view and take home.

Just as a side note, in February 2008, Danny decided to close Ziv Tzedakah. However, three of his students are continuing his work with many of the original mitzvah heros. Their website is:

Here is a great story he told us:

The Starfish

Someone is strolling along the beach and sees hundreds of starfish that have been washed ashore. As he is walking, he sees a child picking one of them up and throwing it back into the water. The adult says to the child, ” Why are you doing this? There are hundreds of starfish on the beach. What difference does this make?” The child replies, “It makes a difference to that one.” This is a popular story and illustrates the fact that even if something seems minor to do, do it anyway because even saving one starfish or helping one person with your time or money is worthwhile.

778) Donated empty 8*11 frames to my daughter’s class for framing the children’s art work.

779) Attended a board meeting that I have been asked to join.

780) Collected cans for a local food pantry with my family today as part of the Shabbaton with Danny Siegel.

My children  had initially been less than excited to participate to say the least. They even told me at the beginning they weren’t going to ring anyone’s door or ask for anything. At the end my 10 year old daughter commented “It was surprisingly fun” and my son who as it turned out did most of the ringing and speaking  at each house eagerly agreed.

My favorite home was one where a man asked my children some questions (must have been a teacher) about what we were doing and how the canned food would be used. My son loved answering his questions and I was thrilled that someone took the time to engage them further.

781) Used my cell phone to help a synagogue congregant contact her ride service to determine why they were late.

782) Helped our guest speaker carry his things to where they needed to be stored.

783) Donated extra $ for a PTO sponsored event at school to help cover an extra person.

784) Attended a school fundraiser at a local restaurant.

Finally, some wonderful quotes from our weekend.

Nobody make s a greater mistake than he who does nothing because he could only do a little.

(Edmund Burke)

Whatever you can do, or dream you can do, you can. Boldness has a genius, magic and power to it. (Goethe)


Birthday Mitzvah received

My 40th birthday was last week on Yom Kippur. It was actually probably the best Yom Kippur I have ever had. The fast was easy and I felt great the whole day. I guess attitude is everything. Plus I had the opportunity to read several passages from the prayer book that reiterated the idea of doing acts of kindness. I don’t remember any of them verbatim but that idea was that every little thing effects the world and it’s all good. (My translation is obviously not as eloquent as the prayer book authors but you get the idea.) I sometimes think this 1000 mitzvah blog is crazy and wonder what am I doing tracking all these little things, but I also love noticing an opportunity to do a kindness and actually doing it. I know I am better because of all these little mitzvahs.

764) Drove a friend to and from synagogue for services.

765) Donated money at the supermarket for a local food bank.

766) Picked up trash on the floor at the synagogue/conference center after services. My friend noticed and commented. I know when I see someone doing a good deed I often notice and feel happy about it.

767) Called after a gentleman at synagogue who had dropped his kippah or yarmalke – a head covering worn by men at synagogue – he was so grateful and thanked me, it looked handmade.

768) Donated food to a local food bank as part of the food drive on Yom Kippur.

769) Volunteered at picture day at my kids school.

On my birthday, I got multiple phone calls and emails from family and friends wishing me a happy birthday, which I was very happy to recieve. I think when we remember things that are happening in other people’s lives it makes people realize they are important to us. My favorite call that day was from an aquaintance I know through my networking group, she was working on the groups newsletter and writing up everyone’s birthday for the month. She realized that it was actually the day of my birthday and called to wish me a happy birthday. That’s the sort of crazy thing I would do too and I was very touched and told her so!

Summertime and the living is easy

Summer time seems to bring out the best in people. I have seen many occasions over the past several days where people are helping one another. My husband says he isn’t seeing much change in people’s behavior with the better weather. I am not sure if I am spending time in different places or just looking for it where I am.

717) My kids are at their summer camp and I donated a box of great items that I thought the camp could use for their art projects and music tents.

718) Last week, I had a meeting for next years volunteer job as coordinator of the Entertainment Books for our school. Even though I am a volunteer, I do enjoy the work around fund raising events.

719) Thought of someone I know who might be able to utilize the same fundraiser for their organization and called both parties to give them each others information.

720) I attended a seminar and afterwards I sent my positive feedback to the presenter.

Of course we all like to get good evaluations. I believe that taking the time to send someone your evaluation is considered an act of kindness, but what if the feedback isn’t so positive? Should you share it and in that case would it be an act of kindness? If you have beneficial suggestions and you can share it in a way that is helpful then you should share it and then it would be an act of kindness for the recipient. Especially if there is someway they can improve for the future.

721) Met someone at a coffee shop today looking for work. She was a young woman in her early 20’s. I suggested she join some appropriate networking groups to meet new people and gave her some local suggestions. She was appreciative of the suggestions.

Carpooling mitzvahs

711) Last week my kids were attending a summer camp that is a bit of a drive from our house. I had arranged some carpooling to help with the increased gas expenses. One day, I drove and my friend brought my kids home after camp. When she tried to leave she realized she couldn’t  turn the key in the ignition. Her daughter had a class beginning in just a few minutes so I offered to drive her daughter to her class, while she waited with the kids and for her husband to arrive. Luckily, it turned out to be just a stripped key and she was on her way as soon as I returned.

712) Picked up a shoe a child had dropped at camp and returned it to the parent.

713) Donated a gift to give away to a friends office celebration for her 10th anniversary in business.

714) Called to check in on a friend who hasn’t been feeling well.

715) Held the door for an older woman.

716) Told someone they had a beautiful smile.

This week I feel like I have been the recipient of many mitzvahs, a dentist called to check in on me after a recent procedure – maybe that is protocol but it was very nice. Received a thank you note and token of appreciation and a special service as a thank you for my help on a project.