In my last post for the Jewish Mother Project, I wrote about compassion and kindness, and how I want that to be at the core of my identity and practice as a Jewish mother.

The thing is, as much as I like to spout off about big ideas, we Jews are all about action. It’s really not enough to think about being kind; I want to find ways to make it a part of my daily life. And I’m not talking about the “random acts of kindness” of bumper sticker fame, although that’s always nice too. I’m talking about making intentional choices to make kindness and compassion front and center on a regular basis.

Not surprisingly, Jewish cultural and religious traditions have plenty to say about just how to be kind to others, especially in times of death and mourning, in caring for the poor, and in our business dealings. Those are important, to be sure, but right now I’m thinking about the smaller, daily interactions I have with friends and family members who might be going through a hard time. Perhaps it’s an injury or illness, a divorce, a struggling child, or just a generally crappy year; whatever is going on, lately it’s been feeling increasingly important to find ways to reach out and support my friends.

READ: Carla Naumburg on Mindful Parenting & Why It’s OK to Ignore Your Kid Sometimes

Maybe it’s because this past year was such a hard one for me, and I’m so grateful for all of the kindnesses I received—from friends who came over for play dates, who went for a walk with me, who helped me unpack on moving day, and who helped me assemble shelves for my new office. These are such small things, but in the course of a day, a month, or a year that seemed to be assaulting with me relatively small things that added up to a pretty rough time, those kindnesses made a big difference.

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