Chesed in Judaism is kindness, but it is also much more. It means acts of freewill, generosity of spirit, and assisting people and the world in ways that create a positive, meaningful difference. We are taught as Jews that a foundational aspect of the entire world lies in such acts of gracious kindness, of chesed.
The first Chief Rabbi of Israel, Abraham Isaac Kook, said: “From the well of chesed, kindness, your love for humanity must burst forth not as an arbitrary obligation, for then it would lose the most clear aspect of its brilliance, but as a powerful movement of the spirit within you.” That spirit must then be directed to practical acts to improve the world.
Rabbi Cohon teaches, “Chesed, in Jewish mysticism, represents the loving aspect of God. When we perform acts of true chesed we demonstrate our ability to imitate that divine characteristic in the best and most selfless of ways, and to live the Jewish standard of pragmatic idealism.”
In June 2022, the Tucson J convened a number of rabbis and educators. One of the things that came out of this meeting was a desire for collaboration on a number of community events. The group decided that a community-wide day of chesed was a priority. Since July, a small committee of the larger group has worked to plan a meaningful day of service for our community.
The committee chose to host the Day of Chesed on Martin Luther King Day. In the United States, MLK Day is the only federal holiday that is designated as a National Day of Service to encourage all Americans to volunteer to improve their communities. On Monday, January 16 the Tucson J is proud to partner with Congregation Beit Simcha, Congregation Bet Shalom, Congregation Anshei Israel, Congregation Chaverim, Interfaith Community Services, Jewish Philanthropies of Southern Arizona, Kol Ami, Tucson Hebrew Academy, and the Weintraub Israel Center to host a Day of Chesed in honor of MLK Day.
We have several different projects that are open to people of all ages. Advanced registration is required by Thursday, January 12. If you are interested in participating in one of our Chesed projects listed below, please be sure to register here.
Habitat for Humanity Build – Habitat Tucson builds homes, community and hope. Everyone, everywhere deserves a decent, affordable place to call home. This project will start at 7:30 am and end at 1:30pm, with a lunch break, please plan to bring lunch with you that day. You must be 18 or older to participate. (Max volunteers 30)
Handmaker– Handmaker is looking for volunteers to help clean up their library between 1pm-3pm. Volunteers must be 18 or older and wear a mask when inside Handmaker. (Max volunteers 10)
Onsite @ the J from 1pm-3pm:
Sandwich making– Help us make peanut butter and jelly sandwiches that we will be donating to those in need. This project is open to everyone.
PJ Library and Rock Painting – Families are invited to join us for a PJ Library story time to hear a story about Chesed and Tikkun Olam. Afterwards we will paint rocks to donate to Peppi’s House and Rocks of Positivity to help spread joy in our community.
ICS Hygiene Kit Packing Project– Help us pack 500 hygiene kits to be donated to the ICS mobile food bank. We will be joined by Jay Deskins, ICS Faith and Outreach Director, to learn more about the work ICS does in the community and hear how this project is making a huge impact.
American Red Cross Blood Drive – Come and give blood and save lives. The American Red Cross bloodmobile will be in the JCC parking lot from 8am-1pm. We suggest reserving your time slot in advance, but walk-ups are welcome. You can reserve your time slot here.