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In a World of Divisiveness, Small Acts Can Have a Huge Impact

"Elijah Moments" bring back the true meaning of the holidays.

Reverend Greg Doll and Rabbi Daniel Cohen

The Problem

Given all the horrendous news events over this past year, including mass shootings, highly-charged political protests, anger, and fear over what is happening in our country, Americans seem to be more divided than ever.

So what do we do about it? This holiday season it's time to focus on something else. Rather than carrying this angst and strife into what should be the brightest time of the year, what if we consciously make the choice to change our direction? What if we make the decision to focus on what actually binds us together as human beings?

An Idea

What if we slow down and think about those around us, whether it's family, friends, and co-workers, or strangers in the coffee shop, grocery store, or other drivers? What if by deciding to do some simple good deed that will make someone else feel good, we feel good in the process? That is how it works, by the way. What if we give for no reason other than we simply feel like it?

The Story

A rabbi and a pastor have put aside their differing thoughts and beliefs, and instead, are choosing to unite in hopes of making the world a better place. By demonstrating how two very different worldviews can still come together and share their commonalities as people, they are modeling how this can be done. And, they are inviting us to join them. As they correctly point out, we need more of this in the world. But how?

The Creation of Elijah Moments

Rabbi Daniel Cohen of Congregation Agudath Sholom, Stamford, CT and Pastor Greg Doll of Norton Presbyterian Church, Darien, CT are launching Elijah Moments. Elijah is a Biblical prophet who appears throughout history to spread light in the midst of darkness. He is the person who comes into your life and makes your day! A seemingly minor act of generosity can change a life. Every person can be an Elijah.

Each of us is encouraged to become our own Elijah by simply doing something nice thing for someone else. Not to get anything out of it. Not for recognition (although that may come), but just because it will make them (and you) feel good.

Here are ten ideas you can use anytime, anywhere to become an Elijah to someone in need.

  1. If someone runs out of money at the grocery store in front of you, pay the difference. Better still, just buy all their groceries.
  2. Give the clerk at the coffee stand an extra ten bucks and say they should pay for the next person. In fact, give them a twenty and say for the next four people!
  3. At a restaurant, ask the waiter or waitress to give you the bill of one of the other patrons and then pay for them without letting them know it was you.
  4. Pay the bridge toll of the person behind you.
  5. Instead of ignoring the panhandler on the corner, give them 5 bucks and wish them a Merry Christmas.
  6. Take ten one dollar bills, and drop $1 into the hands of the next ten beggars you see along the street on the way to work.
  7. Go through your home and put together a package of clothes, phones, tools, appliances, and furniture you don’t need or want anymore, and drop it off at the Salvation Army or another bonafide charity organization.
  8. Got a collection of old cars on your property? Donate a car to NPR.
  9. Call up your rabbi or pastor and offer to buy or sponsor toys and dinners for needy families.
  10. Go to the local school and donate money so needy kids can go on a school outing.
  11. Make a generous donation to a local community organization that works with the poor.
  12. Give some money to a local school, church, synagogue or club and ask that it be used to help the needy.

Don't confuse a small gesture with being insignificant; sometimes the smallest gestures are the most impactful. This is not about ignoring what is truly happening in our world, but it is a way to focus on the positive and what is right with humanity. Through simple acts of generosity, we can transform a fleeting moment into an eternal one.

Be creative. Pay attention. Look for ways to be an Elijah!

Be creative. Pay attention. Look for ways to be an Elijah!

P.S. Post your good deed on social media. Let others know and inspire them to do the same!

Twitter, Facebook, Instagram with hashtags: #elijahmoment #EM

And learn more about Elijah Moments on Facebook.

About Rabbi Daniel Cohen

Popular motivator, mentor, and inspirational speaker, Rabbi Daniel Cohen’s unique blend of authenticity, humor, wisdom, and insight helps anyone better navigate contemporary society and lead a life of legacy. Rabbi Cohen has served in the rabbinate for over twenty years and is the author of What Will They Say About You When You Are Gone? Creating a Life of Legacy.

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