The UC Berkeley campus is no stranger to conflict and dispute. Anti-Israel protests led by students are quite common. But on March 10th, students will set aside polarizing opinions and divisive protests for a Day of Loving Kindness in memory of Judah Marans.
“On March 10th, our goal is to raise 1,000 good deeds and acts of kindness from students on campus as well as around the world via social media,” said UC Berkeley student and former ASUC senator Ori Herschmann. “Encouraging others to increase in kindness is a value that Judah embraced.”
Judah was remembered as the kippah-clad law student who was quick to greet students new to Chabad on campus with a smile and kind word. On December 22nd, 2015, in middle of winter break, Judah’s untimely passing left the UC Berkeley community without the man who had touched so many of their lives in his few years.
After Judah’s passing, students at Berkeley Law’s Boalt Hall and at the Chabad Jewish Student Center, feeling his absence, came up with the idea for A Day of Loving Kindness, bringing Judah’s mother, Nina Kampler on board.
Nina’s excitement and support, says Bracha Leeds, Chabad rep at Berkeley, spurred the students to make it happen, attracting attention they didn’t expect. Some of the first students to step forward and take on active leadership roles were freshman students who had never even met Judah. Stories of Judah’s goodwill traveled across the campus, and students decided to keep a class that Judah co-taught with Rabbi Leeds, going.
“In addition to his academic brilliance and diverse artistic talents, Judah was beloved for his humanity, his kindness, and his genuine interests in helping and caring for others,” said Mark Donig, co-president of the Boalt Jewish Student Association, and board member of Chabad at UC Berkeley, the organizations arranging the event.
“Judah embodied the Jewish teaching to love our fellow Jews as we love ourselves.”
The small gestures and kind words that make the difference will be celebrated on this day, among them: visiting the sick, withholding judgment, paying a sincere compliment, giving up one’s turn for another, reaching out to a friend from the past, donating blood, donating to charity, and asking for forgiveness.
To honor his Jewish pride–Judah always wore his kippah proudly on campus–500 kippahs will be distributed.
As momentum grew around the idea, other schools began to take notice. Judah’s elementary school, the Yavneh Academy in Paramus, NJ will be hosting a parallel event, joined by Judah’s High School, the Ramaz School in NYC, and his undergraduate school, Brandeis University in MA.
In other areas as well, Judah’s inspiration is felt. Mrs. Leeds received an email from a friend of Judah’s who works for the granola company KIND, who wanted in on this special day, and will be donating KIND bars for the day.
“Judaism teaches that our deeds matter and we have the ability to transform the world around us through our actions,” said Rabbi Gil Leeds of Chabad at UC Berkeley. “By doing mitzvot (good deeds) we connect to the source of good and make the world around us brighter.”
While the aforementioned campuses are sponsoring the event, anyone around the world can participate in the Day of Loving Kindness by pledging a good deed in Judah’s memory by visiting www.jewishucb.com and following the link that will be posted on March 10th.
WHAT: Judah Marans Day of Loving Kindness
WHERE: UC Berkeley campus and worldwide
WHEN: Thursday, March 10, 2016