Service to Go Projects: Mugs of Love and Kindness Kits
Jewish Value: love, or ahava
What does Judaism have to say about love, or ahava?
The Shema is one of the central prayers in Judaism that beautifully highlights the love we share with God, our Creator, and the importance of passing that love on to future generations. This heartfelt prayer, consisting of three paragraphs, is recited twice daily, serving as a powerful reminder of our responsibility. As it says, “Love God with all of your being, teach it to your children, recite it when you wake and lie down, bind it as a symbol on your body.” While the love within the Shema primarily focuses on our relationship with God, it also reflects the broader Jewish approach to love; to love deeply and to pass that love on.
Why are these projects important?
The Golden Rule, which encourages us to treat others the way we want to be treated, has its roots in the Book of Leviticus. Leviticus 19:18 tells us, “You shall not take vengeance or bear a grudge against members of your people. Love your fellow as yourself.” In the same chapter, it goes on to say, “When strangers reside with you in your land, you shall not wrong them. The strangers who reside with you shall be to you as your citizens; you shall love each one as yourself, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt.”
As a people, the Jewish community has experienced its share of challenges throughout history, including wandering the desert for 40 years in search of a home. During that time, we encountered nations that sought to destroy our spirit. These experiences serve as a reminder to always be kind and to embrace those we don’t know with love and compassion.
It’s important to remember that there are individuals in our own communities who face hardships, such as homelessness. In Baltimore City, around 1,597 people experience homelessness on any given night (source: Journey Home Baltimore). Additionally, there are about 268,000 seniors living alone in the State of Maryland. Of those seniors, about 8% live below the poverty line. Research shows that isolation can lead to depression, dementia, and declining overall physical health. That’s why we have initiated two winter projects, Mugs of Love and Kindness Kits, which provide opportunities for volunteers to practice the Golden Rule and spread love in meaningful ways.
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