Chessed Jars in Shorashim: Learning Empathy

This week in Shorashim we added “Chessed Jars”. With a huge pile of tzedakah, the Shorashimers each had a chance to pick which Chessed Jar to put their coins in.

Each jar had a different picture on it representing a different act of Chessed:

-giving food to people who need food
-giving toys to kids who don’t have any toys
-building homes for people who don’t have anywhere to live
-caring for animals that are sick or hurt
-spending time with people who are lonely
-visiting people in the hospital

“We’re putting a lot.”–Girl 1

“Mine’s fuller. Mine’s filled up.”–Girl 2

Why did you pick the jar you picked?

“Because it’s my favorite.”–Girl 1
“Because it has a puppy on it.”–Girl 2
“Because I love my mommy and daddy and… [lists rest of family]”–Girl 4
“The doctor is giving a boy medicine really.”–Girl 3
“Some people don’t have any toys.” –Girl 4
“I want to plant sunflower seeds.”–Girl 3
“Because we’re going to make a garden soon and I’m excited.”–Girl 5 

These quotes provide us insight into how empathy develops in young children. Responses such as “it’s my favorite”, “it has a puppy”, “because I love my mommy and daddy” — these all come from the experiences, interests, and preferences of the child herself, not the experiences of others. However, by putting the coin in the jar and doing a pretend act of chessed, the child links her own experiences to the experiences of others. Through doing chessed, we can begin to teach our children how to see through the eyes of another.

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