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Monday, September 16, 2019

(Courtesy of CIS) In a world which can often be filled with darkness and pain, there is a small community, not too far from New York, where people are spreading kindness and goodness and creating sparks of light.

Congregation Israel of Springfield is a warm and inviting kehillah, which has experienced an influx of young couples over the past few years.

Under the dynamic leadership of Rabbi Chaim and Lea Marcus, the shul is welcoming and engaging for the whole family. Miryam Smilow and Chana Horowitz, who are members of Congregation Israel of Springfield, together co-chair a beautiful project called Yom Chesed.

Smilow chairs the gemilut chesed committee at the shul, while Horowitz chairs the youth committee. Together they came up with an idea in which the whole family, young and old, can be a part of spreading kindness and doing good for others.

Yom Chesed, which began last year, is a day where the community gathered to participate in one of eight chesed opportunities. Some of them included packing toiletries for lone soldiers in Israel and baking cupcakes for people of service.

This year, the special campers and staff of Camp HASC benefited from Yom Chesed.

HASC, the Hebrew Academy for Special Children, was opened in 1970 and serves individuals of all ages with special needs. It is directed by Shmiel Kahn and Rav Judah Mischel and provides services for over 300 campers each summer.

This year, HASC campers were greeted with bright blue welcome packages specially prepared for them by the Springfield chesed committee. Smilow and her husband Dr. Josh and their family came down on the first Sunday of camp to distribute packages to the campers, and were joined by Elana and Jeremey Erez, both of whom are Camp HASC staff alumni. Elana was so happy to see her former campers benefiting from the beautiful work of her community.

“Coming back to HASC with our family was so special. It was very meaningful to our family to deliver the camper’s bags on behalf of our community. We are grateful to Rav Judah who showed the kids how inspirational it is to be part of Camp HASC,” she said.

Acts of care and chesed are constantly flowing throughout the grounds of Camp HASC, which was built upon the principles of loving every individual. HASC staff say they were inspired to see those same ethics mirrored by communities near and far, and welcome involvement and support of additional communities who’d like to share a part of the Camp HASC magic. Please contact Rav Kivi Naiman, director of alumni engagement, at [email protected], for details.