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Seeds of Kindness

Mishpacha Contributors

It was an acorn of a deed, but to the recipient, a towering oak providing shade and shelter. 17 stories of small kindnesses with large results

Wednesday, February 08, 2017

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MOMENT BY MOMENT It was her smile, the smile that lit her whole being and suffused the world with light, that drew everyone like a magnet. It was the smile and the “Hello, darling” that brightened my every week…

So many of us have been touched deeply by another’s goodness. When Family First asked writers to tell them about the greatest kindness they’d experienced, they were overwhelmed by the volume of responses. 

So many seeds, bearing such beautiful fruit. Below, a taste of the bounty for Tu B’Shevat.

It’s Fine

Rivka Miriam Siegal

If my son’s likes could be summed up in a category, it would be under the heading: “Things That Hum.” Air conditioners, refrigerators, washers, dryers, pretty much any major appliance fascinates him endlessly.

These aren’t normal interests for a young boy. He’s autistic, you see, and his angelic good looks stopped saving him from scrutiny when he was around six years old…

Car of Kindness

Esther Malka Goldschmidt

My baby was born in the darkness of a bitter winter. The bris was beautiful, but then all the guests left. I was up (up again? still up?) at five-thirty a.m. when my husband left too, for his commute to work. That left me with a bunch of tiny little kids to get up and out to school —which included driving the two youngest to their playgroups.

It was snowing. My brain was foggy with fatigue. I bundled up the tiny newborn baby and the other two kids; the weather was bad, so I took them out in shifts…

Finishing Touches

Cindy Scarr

Summer, 2009. I’m driving my 98-year-old Grandma Frances from New York to Boston to visit her grandchildren. And back again.

Plenty of time to bring up unpleasant subjects.

I glance over at her. Just do it, there may never be another time.

“Grandma, I know this isn’t the most pleasant conversation topic, but... I need to discuss your funeral with you…”

Love in a Bag

Yael Schuster

There she stood, patiently waiting, feet slightly apart to help her balance. She clutched a brown paper bag in her hands, and when her eyes found me, they lit up.

“Yaelinyu!”

Awkwardness flooding me, I shuffled over to receive her embrace. After all, I was in school, third grade to be exact — not in Bubby’s apartment on East 13th Street, where hugs and kisses and impassioned declarations of love were normal, almost appreciated. In school, they shifted the universe a few degrees out of alignment…

No Strings Attached

Faigy Markowitz

Cellophane crinkles in my hand. I diligently count and package the printed cardboard papers that line our small kitchen table. The boxes and the mess don’t bother me. It’s the price I pay for helping my husband. I can hear him on the phone in the next room. I sigh as I realize he’s asking yet another relative or acquaintance for a loan…

The Gift of Giving

Chaia Frishman

Friday afternoon. A ring at the door. I opened it to find two burly delivery men from Supersol setting down three boxes of takeout food. Gefilte fish, chicken soup, side dishes, chickens, deli, and cakes (yup, plural of everything). For my family of extremely picky eaters…

A Toast for Two

As told to Riki Goldstein

London. London held the promise. A scrap of lined paper, pulled off a medical pad and scribbled with the name of a professor, was the only option that remained. We had spent 14 years soaking our siddurim with tears and running up and down Eretz Yisrael to see top professors who could help us have children. And still, we had trudged with empty arms through the cycle of the years…

Sanctuary

Rochel Jacobs

The most traumatic week of my life had just ended. The roller coaster dumped me unceremoniously in a broken pile... without family, friends, or home. I had two small suitcases and my cell phone with its contacts, but nowhere to go.

All that would welcome me in a few short hours was the frigid black night…

The Taste of Care

A. Aster

It was just a bagel, really.

Then on Tuesday came a tuna wrap and Danish, and Wednesday it was cheese blintzes and soup. Thursday was bagels again, with a muffin and a bottle of Snapple. Not the biggest deal, right? But they were the greatest kindness imaginable…

Matchmaker

Ashira Davidson

I had been dating Moshe, a very nice young man, for quite some time. After a while, however, I ended it — mainly because we had both given it a good chance and I didn’t feel the relationship was progressing. Moshe had been optimistic about our future together and was disappointed — he asked me to give it another shot…

Coming Clean

Shira Isenberg

“We’re just not doing Pesach this year.”

It was Motzaei Shabbos, four days before Pesach, and I wasn’t ready — and I couldn’t imagine I ever would be…

Permission to Mourn

Millie Samson

Mum. Such a small word, a word redolent with love and giving, it was a word I had never said — until I married my husband. I’m from the generation that hid sadness. When my mother was niftar, leaving four small children, she was effectively erased from our lives. My very precious mother-in-law became the mother I never knew. She wove a web of compassion that encompassed every facet of our lives.

 

In the grainy film of our long-ago chasunah, there she is, arranging my wedding dress, giving my hand a squeeze, gazing proudly at us, accepting without question the choice of her only son…

Boy Oh Boy 

Faigy Peritzman

It was 4 a.m. on a winter Motzaei Shabbos, but my adrenaline was high as I dialed.

“Mom! Dad! It’s a boy!”

My in-laws’ excitement came down the wire. “Finally! A boy after all the girls. We’re coming to the bris!”

I crawled back into bed, exhausted but elated. Yet as I drifted off to sleep, a thought niggled in my mind. Did someone say bris?

Two days later, all elation had faded, and fatigue was making my brain foggy…

Book of Life

Esther Kurtz

I stood there, hand on hip, waiting for her chastisement.

“The Navi speaks to me, Esther,” she said. “It doesn’t speak to you. And that’s okay. Everyone has different things that pull and inspire them. I just can’t have you sleeping through my class…”

Unforgotten Kindnesses

Ahava Ehrenpreis

There are few moments in a woman’s life more extraordinary than her first look at her newborn baby. When the doctor handed me my son, there was a brief moment when I thought, He doesn’t seem like his brothers and sisters when they were born. The thought was dismissed in a haze of fatigue and joy. It took no longer than the brief transfer to a recovery room for the confirmation that, indeed, this little guy was not like his siblings. He had a dark complexion, no hair, a strong cry, and a different number of chromosomes…

Golden Deed

Malky Lowinger

In New York, you can walk into a takeout store on Erev Shabbos an hour before the zeman, and order your seudah from soup to nuts. But in Yerushalayim, the city begins to shut down at chatzos, as it readies for Shabbos.

A beautiful concept. Except that, as an American family spending Yom Tov in a rented apartment for the first time, we had no clue. We’d landed the night before, and by the time we were ready to order our Shabbos fare, we discovered that the stores were closed. Oy…

You Didn’t See Me

As told to Faigy Schonfeld

As usual, I try to be courteous to the customers, while my mind is crunching numbers. Old Mrs. Winkler takes a while, fishing for coins, blowing at her cracked, reddened hands, cajoling the guy bagging her groceries to carry them home for her. A man in a short coat stands right behind her, shoulders hunched.

Mrs. Winkler finally shuffles over to allow the man to move up. He leans in toward me, speaks in whisper, “Tell me, how much do the Perlsteins owe? I’m, uh, helping out…”

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