For Rabbi Yaakov Rapoport, kindness is not as common today as he would like.
Inspired by his wife, Chanie, he organized an initiative to spread kindness throughout the Syracuse community.
Members of Chabad House – a Jewish student organization at Syracuse University – have spent recent weeks packaging and delivering gifts to healthcare workers, fire and police departments. The initiative partnered with Syracuse University’s Hendricks Chapel.
The exchange is inspired by Purim, during which family and friends exchange gift baskets of food and drink. The gifts for essential workers include cookies, candies and some flavored coffees and teas as a small thank you. Packages also include hamantaschen, triangle-shaped cookie pastries with fruit or savory filling.
Each mugs proclaims “Kindness is Catchy.”
In the past two weeks, the group has distributed about 300 packages, and Rapoport said he has gotten emails of gratitude of recipients.
“That is what this is all about,” he said. “We want to show some gratitude to these people who are doing so much for us.”
Emma Lambiaso, a freshman at Syracuse University, is one of the students involved with Kindness is Catchy. Lambiaso participates in events at Syracuse University’s Chabad center and learned about the project from the Rapoports. She helped fill the mugs, package them, and deliver them to the Syracuse Police Department and Crouse Hospital.
“In this pandemic especially, I love that we’re giving back to first responders. It’s so hard because you feel so helpless, and the most you can do is take care of yourself and make sure you’re staying safe. But they’re the people putting their lives on the line, and that’s just incredible. It’s something I really appreciate,” Lambiaso said.
The group delivered gifts the week leading up to Purim and continue to spread cheer after the holiday. Rabbi Rapoport said there is a good chance they will keep making and delivering packages in the future, possibly every couple of months.