From the Corridors of the Religious School

Cantor-Educator Elena Schwartz

Middah of the 5778 Jewish Year 
 Loving-Kindness and Compassion


The Jewish virtue of teshuva, which will open the school year, compels us to ask the question, "How can we be better people?" Judaism's most comprehensive response is through acts of chesed and rachamim - loving-kindness and compassion. Loving- kindness is all-encompassing and includes many different mitzvot, like giving tzedakah, visiting the sick, and helping the elderly. However, in the most basic form, loving-kindness and compassion involve our making a conscious effort to open our hearts, and see and feel the needs of others.

Our rabbis taught that acts of loving-kindness are even greater than charity. Here is what is written in the Babylonian Talmud: “Charity is done with one's money, while loving-kindness may be done with one's money or with one's person (e.g. spending time with a sick person). Charity is giving only to the poor, while loving-kindness may be given both to the poor and to the rich (e.g. consoling one who is in mourning or depressed).”

Throughout the school year, our students and teachers will be focusing on this middah through stories, t'filah, and a variety of activities. In some of our classes, the children will be keeping a record to monitor their own acts of loving-kindness and then sharing examples of chesed in their own lives with their peers. Together we will learn about how everyday acts of loving-kindness can change the world in which we and our children.

As we enter the New Jewish Year of 5778, I wish you and all yours, a year filled with health, prosperity, peace, and of course a year of chesed (loving-kindness) and rachamim (compassion).

L'Shanah Tovah,
Cantor-Educator Elena Schwartz 




Make My Sinai Your Sinai