By Rabbi Levi Greenberg

State and local leaders have proclaimed April 2 to be Education and Sharing Day. This day is a time to pause and reflect on our personal responsibility to provide our young people with a moral education, to teach them the foundations they need to live a life of service and higher purpose.

This was a cause championed by the Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson, the most influential rabbi in modern history and leader of the Chabad Lubavitch movement. In recognition, Education and Sharing Day is observed annually on his birthday, four days before Passover. This year it will be observed on Sunday, April 2.

On Tuesday, March 28, a delegation of Chabad rabbis from around the state, including Rabbi Yisrael Greenberg and Rabbi Levi Greenberg of El Paso, was in Austin to join state leaders in recognizing Education and Sharing Day.

Gov. Greg Abbott greeted the delegation, signed a proclamation and was delighted to learn of Chabad’s work promoting moral education and acts of charity. He placed some charity into a small yellow, boat-shaped “giving box” known as ARK (an abbreviation for Acts of Random Kindness) and invited everyone in the room to participate as well.

The ARK Giving Project is a global initiative inspired by the Rebbe’s call for all people to increase in acts of goodness and kindness. School children are provided “giving boxes” and encouraged to fill them with small amounts daily to be shared with the charity of their choice. Approximately 10,000 El Paso school children have participated in the program to date.

Rep. Joe Moody from El Paso introduced a resolution in the Texas House of Representatives (HR623) recognizing Education and Sharing Day. An ARK Giving Box was placed on each representative’s desk in the chamber and Rep. Moody encouraged them to use them every day.

“We talk a lot about education and giving in this body, and we do our best to walk the walk in those areas as we consider legislation,” Rep. Moody said on the House floor. “We have no better example to follow than the Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson. He emphasized the importance of charity as a habitual practice. As has been put to me, turning random acts of kindness into routine acts of kindness. By giving, we not only provide assistance to others, we also turn our minds and spirits towards service and build a practice of compassion and duty to our community.”

Placing a dollar in the ARK giving box to rousing applause, he concluded, “I encourage you not just to give, but to reflect on what giving means. We have a long way to go this session, and I can’t think of a better way of turning our hearts and our minds to the service we have been called to here.”

On the Senate side, Sen. Cesar Blanco from El Paso introduced the resolution (SR348) speaking of the rich history of Education and Sharing Day, first designated in 1978 by President Jimmy Carter upon the request from a joint resolution of Congress, and recognized by every president since then. 

Following this tradition and adopting such a resolution in our state “presents an important opportunity for Texans to reflect not just on how to foster academic achievement, but also to ensure young people live rich and purposeful lives and fulfillment through service and good work,” the senator said.

Sen. César Blanco, D-El Paso, accepts an ARK charity box from Chabad rabbis on March 28. (Photo courtesy Chabad of El Paso)

At the El Paso County Commissioners Court meeting on Monday, March 20, a similar proclamation was adopted including language referencing the ARK Giving Project launched to all county employees in connection with last year’s Education and Sharing Day observance.

“In the spirit of leading by example, the Commissioners Court gifted employees a ‘giving box’ to encourage the county family to donate a small amount of money daily, thereby nurturing the inherent goodness we all possess by making kindness routine in life,” the proclamation reads.

“What would have happened if the young man who did what he did on August 3rd had learned as a child about generosity, caring and giving?” County Judge Ricardo Samaniego said during the meeting, reflecting on how learning of the Rebbe’s timeless lessons about routine charitable giving and the impact it can have on everyone, especially children, was a paradigm shift for him. “Perhaps things would have been very different. It’s not just about acts, it’s about a way of living.”

The Education and Sharing Day proclamation signed by El Paso Mayor Oscar Leeser points out how the Rebbe “stressed that a moral and ethical education empowers every individual to develop their full potential in making the world a better place. Such an education can nurture the unity of diverse peoples through encouraging increased acts of goodness and kindness, imbued with the awareness that even a single positive act of an individual can make a major impact in this world.”

The Rebbe often quoted the famous 12th-century Jewish leader, philosopher, physician and scholar, known as Maimonides, who declared that we must all view ourselves and the world as an equally balanced scale of good and bad. One single good deed that one individual does can tip the scales for the entire world to usher in an era of eternal peace and tranquility.

I am so grateful to our state and local leaders for leading by example and inspiring all Texans, and especially our fellow El Pasoans, to observe Education and Sharing Day as a time to reflect on how we can promote these ideals of morality, ethics and acts of goodness and kindness. 

Practically speaking, everyone can set aside a designated giving box in their homes and offices and start giving to charity every day. May these actions be the ones to tip the scale in the right direction.

Levi Greenberg is associate rabbi at Chabad of El Paso.