During the HWS Shabbat gathering in March, HWS Hillel and the Abbe Center for Jewish Life announced a new kindness initiative in conjunction with BKind World, an international company that promotes positivity and compassion.
The idea was brought to campus by Matthew Fox ’19, president of the Colleges’ Hillel board, who had a chance to meet one of the founders of BKind on a Birthright trip to Israel during winter break.
Fox says that BKind “was founded on the simple premise of trying to get the most people to do good things for others, for no reason other than it’s the right thing to do. As I listened to them talk about their social enterprise, I immediately thought of HWS Shabbat. Every year, the president of Hillel gives a speech and I wanted to use my speech as an opportunity to launch an initiative to the campus, a concrete challenge for everyone to do something nice for someone else.”
Through BKind, participants perform kind acts for other people — strangers, acquaintances or friends — then register the act online. BKind Cards, which track acts of kindness, are passed from one person to another as a token of gratitude or with an act of kindness they accomplished. Acts of kindness are archived on the BKind website and attached to an interactive map. Currently, there are 60,000 registered acts of kindness in 40 countries.
“I think BKind is a great idea, and is exactly the kind of initiative people need right now,” says Alexander Kerai ’19, who attended the Shabbat celebration. “BKind reminds people that little deeds add up.”
Director of the Abbe Center for Jewish Life Julianne Miller says the goals of BKind resonate with HWS Shabbat, which offers people “the opportunity to experience and learn about Shabbat, for members of our Jewish community to celebrate and share their traditions with their friends and with campus in general, and for us to get to share some Jewish values that we think will have meaning for everybody. ”
“One of those values is the value of kindness, which is central in Jewish text, teachings, and traditions,” Miller notes.
Open to the entire HWS community, Shabbat is held each Friday at 6:30 p.m. in the Abbe Center. HWS Hillel also hosts a bagel brunch once a month on a Sunday morning at 10:30 a.m. and will celebrate Passover during April, begins with a Passover Seder on Friday, April 19.