Summer Acts of Kindness

Encouraging Kind Acts in ChildrenALONG WITH THE FLEXIBILITY of summer schedules and good weather comes the need for family activities in lieu of school day routines. This summer, why not make a concerted effort to consciously perform and track “random acts of kindness”?
As Sarah Chana Radcliffe writes in her piece, “Cultivating Kindness,” raising a mensch is more than just raising children to be polite. “Cultivating kindness is central to Judaism,” she writes. “The Talmud says that ‘Love your neighbor as yourself’ [Leviticus 19:18] is the fundamental principle of the Torah.”

Jewish Mom Sharon D. Estroff came to fully understand the importance of “mensch training” when she realized her daughter would someday grow up to serve in any number of roles in the world. In her piece, “Raising a Mensch,” Estroff explains no matter what a child someday “becomes,” the goal at hand is ensuring our children “ embody the very values and mentschlekeit [the quality of being a mensch] that have kept our people growing strong for generations.”

“While it would certainly be nice for Emma [Estroff’s daughter] to become an astronaut, movie star, or physician one day,” Estroff adds, “these are but secondary goals to that of watching her grow into a kind, compassionate individual.”

This summer, PJ families can encourage giving acts by bringing attention to them, and acknowledging their importance. By keeping a journal or calendar to track daily acts of kindness or by discussing them as a family around the meal table, PJ families can make great strides in their “mensch training.”

To help inspire you in your “summer mensch training” plans, we’ve gathered a few ideas from around the ’net. No matter how your family incorporates acts of kindness into your home, the world will be a better place for it.
  • Kindness Counts
    The mission of this PBS Sprouts program is “teaching kids empathy and acts of kindness.” It offers a number of ideas for parents and children.
  • Kindness Acts
    The Random Acts of Kindness Foundation is a nonprofit organized “dedicated to providing resources and tools that encourage acts of kindness.” They offer more than 300 ideas for families.
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