Friday, December 6, 2013

A Word from the Director: 12/6/2013

We are often presented with opportunities to reach out to people. Many of those situations don’t necessitate money, nor are they labor intensive. The first step is simply to be aware of the importance of human interactions and how even a small effort like a quick phone call or text can make the difference between a great day or a lousy one for the recipient of your efforts. We all know people for whom these connections would be meaningful, but for some reason we struggle to find the time to bring our good intentions to fruition. I believe the key is to recognize how critical these messages of support are, and then to work small actions into our day.

A former student of mine is an orphan and works in an office by himself most of the day. I try to check in with him every so often. Recently he told me that although he is happy to have a job, it is very lonely there as very few people walk into his store each day. I happened to be in that neighborhood this week and stopped by to see him. The look on his face was priceless. I wasn’t there very long and had no agenda other than to let him know that someone cared enough to just stop by and say hello. I experienced this in an entirely different setting as well. I attended a very moving and inspirational play made up of actors who are in recovery from addiction. Despite having seen it before, I went to show support for the actors that I knew from rehab. For the remainder of the week, I kept getting calls and texts from them thanking me for coming and letting me know how much it meant to them that I was there. The gemara in Bava Basra tells us that one who gives tzedaka receives six brachos, while one who speaks kindly to the poor gets eleven. We can all “afford” a kind word to someone in need, we just have to take the time to make that small effort.

Chanukah was a busy week at Aish Tamid. Besides for the nightly ritual of maariv, candle lighting, and sufaniyot, we took the boys out bowling one evening. As luck would have it, after organizing transportation and all the details of the event, when we got to the bowling alley we were informed that there was a blackout in the neighborhood and clearly could not bowl. We moved on to Plan B, only to discover that the timing was off and that activity wouldn’t work either. Realizing that Someone decided that this wasn’t meant to be, we ended up hanging out together at the Promenade in Santa Monica. On the way home, as I was feeling a bit bummed out that our evening hadn’t gone as planned, a few of the boys maintained a much more positive outlook and commented on how much fun they had just going out together. I was impressed that there were none of the usual complaints you might expect from teenagers and that they were able to express their appreciation for the efforts made on their behalf, despite the disappointments of that night. I firmly believe that their ability to just enjoy each others’ company is a testament to the bond these boys have created at Aish Tamid.

Another evening this week we had a Chanukah party, which was organized by Gloria Rott and generously sponsored by Abba’s. The food was delicious, and the live music really made the evening memorable. We’d like to thank Rabbi Eli Scheller for joining us that evening and inspiring us.

Yasher koach to Mr. and Mrs. Shmuel Drebin for providing us with transportation for our evening out on the town.

And finally, a big “thank you” goes out to Yehuda Klein and Eli Sharf for generously donating Clippers tickets Aish Tamid last week.

Have a good Shabbos!

Rabbi Gavriel Hershoff

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