Monday, November 14, 2005

Chabad organizes week of kindness

By Alyssa Roberts/Targum Staff Writer
Published: 11/4/05

It's one thing to do something nice for another here and there, but could you be kind for a week straight?

The Rutgers Chabad House planned a week full of community service events for the "RU Week of Kindness" that begins next Tuesday and lasts through Tuesday, Nov. 15.

Rabbi Baruch Goodman encourages more students to join the 400 student volunteers.

"It's a marathon of community service," he said. "We do all kinds of crazy community service events."

The weeklong event that started last year occurs every semester, instead of one day, as it did for six years before then.

"It used to be the RU Day of Kindness," Goodman said. "Now it turned into a week of kindness."

Comedian Joel Chasnoff jumpstarts the week with his benefit show in the Chabad House multipurpose hall on College Avenue. The event is a fundraiser for Hurricane Katrina victims.

The final event, "I Love Israel" is exciting, said Debbie Toplansky, Chabad House vice president and community service director.

Volunteers are making menorahs - a seven-branched candelabrum used in the Hanukkah holiday - and sending them to the University's Jewish soldiers overseas. They want the gifts to reach Iraq in time for the holiday at the end of December, she said.

Toplansky said soldiers can still practice tradition while they are far away from home. Last year, a soldier returned to the Chabad House to tell them how much he appreciated their kindness, she said.

"I Love Israel" also features a fund-raiser for families of Israel Defense Force soldiers and terror victims.

"We make special crafts for the kids," Toplansky said.

Douglass College third-year student Esther Beil plans to attend the comedy show and "I Love Israel" night. Although she is not a volunteer, she thinks the Chabad House is doing a great job of getting students involved.

Kindness will also spread locally. Volunteers will distribute toys to children hospitals in the area. They will also deliver "meals on wheels" to the old-and-shut-in with the help of the Jewish Family Services for Middlesex County.

Nursing homes will not be left out, as students will dedicate a few hours of their time to spend with senior citizens.

"It's just so nice to be able to see them smile and know their day is going to be a little brighter," Toplansky said.

The "Jewish Home and Mitzvah Theme" party invites young adults with special needs to the Chabad House. This party caters to those unable to go out on their own and enjoy themselves, Goodman said.

"Otherwise, they have no cultural experiences," he said. "We are lucky to make these services available so that hundreds of students can help hundreds of people be happier."

As the "RU Week of Kindness" nears, Goodman encourages more students to volunteer. Students interested in joining should e-mail

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