Monday, December 10, 2012

Rabbi Min on Gemilut Chasadim

Bestowing Loving Kindnesses - Basic Jewish Value #7:  The mission statement of Jewish Family Service of New Mexico reads: “Guided by Jewish values, we offer targeted social services that help preserve and improve the quality of life for New Mexicans.” What are these Jewish values? How do they help guide the day-to-day work that we do at JFS? When new employees join the staff of JFS, they are introduced to eighteen of these basic Jewish values.

The Jewish value of "gemilut chasadim" literally means "to bestow loving kindnesses." This is a value which is widely applied and inclusive, including every kind of help: visiting the sick, comforting those who mourn, escorting the dead to the grave.

The Mishnah (a collection of early oral interpretations of the Hebrew Scriptures that was compiled about AD 200, and which forms the first part of the Talmud) counts it among the things for which no limit has been prescribed by the Torah (Peah 1:2).

Since gemilut chasadim consists of personal acts of kindness, it can be practiced by rich and poor alike.

Gemilut chasadim finds expression in all efforts of goodwill, and is exemplified by receiving all people cheerfully, by loving peace and striving for peace (Pirkei Avot 1:12, 15).

Among JFS's Jewish clients this value is applied by the Chaplaincy staff of Rabbi Min Kantrowitz in Albuquerque, Chaplain Miryam Levy in Santa Fe and Chaplain Linda Friedman in Rio Rancho by visiting the sick, arranging for burial, attending funerals, and comforting mourners. The majority of JFS clients are NOT Jewish, and yet benefit by how the staff embodies this Jewish value.

Since gemilut chasadim consists of personal acts of kindness, it is practiced every day by all JFS staff and volunteers. Whether assisting a slowly moving elder using our Senior Transportation Program aboard the JFS van, packing a food box at the JFS Food Pantry specifically addressing the needs of a specific family, or meeting with a group of seniors committed to maintaining their independence through participating in Wellness Programs - every day we practice this value.

Gemilut chasadim finds expression in all efforts of goodwill. Anyone who goes through a day with sensitivity and a desire to care about others will find multiple opportunities to practice gemilut chasadim!

1 comment:

John Kelly said...

JFS is especially committed to building community, to "naturally occurring retirement communities" (NORCs) and to others who want to "age at home."

JFS does not limit itself to the needs of Jewish people, just as Jewish people do not limit kindess.