As we start the Jewish New Year, I found it quite fortuitous that I ran across the following article and its implied message in the September 15th Haaretz paper. The title read “Biker combines altruism, cross-country challenge.” In short, an extreme sports enthusiast named Ronen Medina is traveling cross-country, from Metula (Northern Israel) to Eilat (Southern Israel), on his electric scooter, visiting hospitals and distributing packages of candy to patients.
One, lets assume the patients aren’t diabetics. Two, lets ignore the alarming reports that note the increase in Israeli children requiring dental work on their baby teeth. And three, go Ronen! His goal: to make them happy. And his inspiration: I thought, if I am already doing it [crossing Israel on a scooter], why not make patients in the hospital happy. Shouldnt volunteering for and donating to our favorite causes be this easy?
After converting his dirt bike into a motorized scooter, to which he hitched a carriage containing a tent and four batteries plus bags of treats for the patients…Sponsored by the companies that contributed the candy and with the support of scooter and battery companies whose contributions were also solicited for the expedition.
Truly, one person really can make a difference. Or as J.R.R. Tolkien said: “Even the smallest person in the world can change the course of the universe.” (Lord of the Rings)
Because people are naturally skeptical, I’ll provide some additional proof of the power of the individual (and there are a lot more great examples out there):
Eric Halivni (Toldot Yisrael) — Eric (Aryeh) realized that Israel lacked any archive of video testimonies of the people at any and every level involved in creating the State of Israel. Modeled after Steven Spielberg’s Shoah Foundation, Eric has single-handedly spearheaded the only mission of its kind is Israel: preserving these important stories for future generations. Congratulations to Eric upon recently completing his 100th interview.
Rabbi Y.D. Grossman (Migdal Ohr) — At the age of 21, Rabbi Grossman left Jerusalem for the development town of Migdal Ha’emek in the hopes of lending a hand. He soon realized that the residents’ social and economic problems could be traced back to childhoods lacking a warm and loving environment. Over 35 years later, Migdal Ohr services about 6,000 children in a wide array of formal and informal educational programs, schools, and foster homes.
If you think that poor, little you doesn’t have what it takes to spread your important message then listen to this story:
Eli Winkelman (Challah For Hunger) The founder met Bill Clinton on her college campus and told him of her project. Approximately, six months to a year later, Bill Clinton was on television show as part of a panel with other celebrities to promote the ideas of volunteerism and social initiative. While answering the question as to how one can take the first steps in starting his or her own initiative, Clinton answered that one should always “plays to their strengths.” He elaborated by telling the story of Eli Winkelman and Challah for Hunger to an audience in the millions, accompanied by orchestral music and video footage. He capped it off with his own tag-line for the organization, “Jewish girls, baking Jewish bread for Muslim children,” to thunderous applause from the other panel members and live audience. Click here to watch President Clinton.
It can happen. All you need to do is take that first step…
May we all take advantage of the personal strength that lies inside all of us. Shanah tovah and best wishes for a happy and healthy New Year.
Tizku LeMitzvot [May you continue to merit doing good deeds],