Temple Sinai President Richard Evans
Dear Temple Sinai Family:
Shana Tova. As I write this article, we have just finished celebrating Rosh Hashanah, and we begin our 71st Anniversary Year as Temple Sinai. Last year, my SCRIBE articles centered on the theme of Israel, apropos of our celebration of its 70th Anniversary. This year, dovetailing off of my High Holy Day speech, my theme will be centered on Tikkun Olam-Healing of the World. When preparing for my speech, I enlisted the help of my favorite editor-my wife, Vicki. With her red pencil and her eye on the timer, several pages of my speech were removed. I would like to share with you some of what was cut.
A recent experiment by the University of Zürich yielded interesting results. 50 Swiss volunteers were each given 25 Swiss Francs per week for one month. Half were told to spend the money on themselves. The other half were told to choose a new recipient each week with whom to spend the money. In other words, half were told to be Mensches and the other half were told to be Misers.
At the beginning of the study, each volunteer had an MRI with a computer screen that flashed hypothetical scenarios involving monetary gifts to loved ones at a personal cost. The MRI reported their brain activity as
each indicated how they would react to the specific situations.
Afterwards, the scientists again asked each person about their moods, especially their happiness, and compared the results with the original survey. Those who agreed to give the money away reported feeling significantly
happier than those who planned to spend the money on themselves. The MRIs of the Mensches showed greater activity in the area of the brain associated with activism. It addition, there was a higher functional connectivity with the brain’s reward center. In effect, the pledge to be generous primed people to be more giving. In the months following the MRI study, the majority of volunteers who had agreed to give the money away actually did.
The study showed a linkage in the brain between doing something nice for someone and feeling better about yourself.
Once again, it feels good to give.