Hakores HaTov-Recognizing The Good
'If only there were more "good", how much better the world would be!’' How many times have you heard that? And I'd have no quarrel with it but for one little correction.
“Mrs. Smith, I'm calling to let you know how well Tommy is doing in class; he is doing "A" work in all his subjects."
When your kids were in school, how often did you receive calls from your children's teachers like this?
I certainly am not suggesting you were unaware of your children's excellence in school, but teachers have all too often only called home when Tommy wasn't doing well.
What may seem a little kindness may make a big difference.
It isn't that there are too few instances. Happily, there is much good that happens in our everyday although there is always room for more..
'Sorry, all full up with kindness this season, but do come back next season, won't you?'
Kindnesses, great and small, do make a better place of our world. So, what is the missing element, this so-called "little correction"?
A story's value lies not only in the craftsmanship of its creator but in its telling. A story untold is as if it had never been written. What's missing and sorely needed?
Reportage: re·port·age [ri-pawr-tij, -pohr-, rep-awr-tahzh, -er-]
1. the act or technique of reporting news.
2. reported news collectively: reportage on the war.
3. a written account of an act, event, history, etc., based on direct observation or on thorough research and documentation.
Chesed as an investment in our world.
The comfort in our lives is precarious. I know at times it may seem otherwise. Often unmeasurable, the effect of an act of kindness-no matter how pedestrian it seems-can change a life for the better and may even save it.
After nearly three long years of refusing to "let the other guy do something" while a life slid into homelessness and beyond, a life has finally been saved.
Backstory in brief
The only son of my late father's second wife, a man whom I have known for better than fifty years, whose biological father abandoned him and his mother, his life took a deep turn south.
His marriage failed after more than twenty-five years; he lost his job, his health profile suffered a steep downward turn, and he was frighteningly close to homelessness.
"So you'll stay with us," I told him but only after receiving my wife's blessing. Her goodness and kindness for this man about whom many would have said, 'Hey, he's not even your real brother, what is your obligation?'
To which I responded on several occasions, "This is what my father taught me and what I later promised him."
Eighteen months later ...
It just wasn't working out as we had hoped.
'Ideas, anyone have any ideas?'
'What about The Ark in Chicago?'
Ha Teyva (Noah's, of course. You know someone else with an ark?)
The very day we went down to register my brother for temporary housing, that very same day toward the late afternoon, I received a call from The Ark's housing director.
"We have an immediate opening for your brother." We moved him in the next day.
The Ark, 6450 N. California Ave, Chicago, Illinois is the vital center of chesed (kindness) in the Jewish community serving non-Jews and all Jews alike, regardless of their affiliation and level of observance.
Kept him off the streets and out from under the viaduct on Division Street and the expressway for six months. The Ark’s housing is temporary and transitional. Social workers arrange for roommate housing with fellow social service agencies.
Next stop. Center of Concern in Park Ridge, Illinois. Under the direction of a fine lady from West Rogers Park in Chicago and her able assistant, the Center of Concern is just that-concerned for the well-being of its clients, but as fortune had it, they lost their lease on an apartment property in Des Plaines, Illinois. Time to move on and out.
My brother called me. He had fallen several times. Reason(s) unknown. Worrisome. Hypoglycemia? Possible brain tumor? When you do not know, you imagine the worst.
I was downtown when I learned about the falls. I called a friend from shul who picked my brother up and drove him to the Evanston Veterans’ Affairs Clinic.
Fast forward through Rush North Shore Hospital to Cambridge Rehabilitation and Nursing Center in Skokie, Illinois where, as before, we met and worked with some wonderful folks, from cna(s), certified nursing assistants through the cfo, chief financial officer, with extra special thanks to Cambridge’s amazing social worker and its resident financial coordinator. Their hard teamwork made it possible for my brother to move into a new assisted living facility Heritage Woods in Gurnee, Illinois where he is tonight spending his second night in his new one bedroom apartment. Special kudos to its resident moving coordinator and her fine staff for reminding us how warm the world can be even on the coldest days of winter.
Unlike me, my brother has never been accused of verbosity. "Peaceful" was both the beginning and end of his response when I inquired about his first night in Heritage Woods.
HaKores Hatov to all the many fine folks: non-Jews and Jews alike, for their invaluable help in saving a life. There is no doubt that our world, as cold and miserable as it can sometimes be, is tonight a lot less miserable and a great deal warmer for Gurnee, Illinois' newest resident.