Never underestimate the impact of one good deed, on the doer at least as much as on the recipient.
I went on Birthright through Hillel in late December 2008. During one of our pre-Israel orientation sessions, they told us we would have the opportunity to pack suitcases filled with clothes, shoes, toys, etc.at the JCC something like the Sunday before our trip, which, from looking at calendars, I guess was probably December 14, to bring to kids in the children’s village in Karmiel, Pittsburgh’s sister city, during our day of community service.
I turned to my friend and asked if he was going. He wasn’t sure.
“If you go, I’ll go,” I told him. He said he’d see.
That Shabbat, he told me he was going. So I decided I would go too.
When I arrived at the JCC, I didn’t see him and considered turning back (I get immensely shy in new places where I don’t know anyone, and this goes triple for those places where you need to explain yourself over an intercom to get in), but then I thought of the mitzvah, took a deep breath, waited to catch the door after someone coming or going, then went in. I soon recognized some people, including my friend, in a room just to the right of the entrance stuffing suitcases with colorful clothes, toys, and, since these were for Israeli children, Crocs. I went in, said hi to my friend, found some stuff to stuff, and began stuffing it for tzedaka.
Shortly after I arrived, a woman came up and introduced herself as Tsipy, the Director of the Agency for Jewish Learning. I told her I was a student at Pitt. She asked me what I study. “Writing,” I said.
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