the schmooze
Marjorie Gottlieb Wolfe
Syosset, New York
Can you answer this S.A.T.-type question?

"Helper's high" is
(A) giving a High Five
(B) a vitamin supplement
(C) a peer-helping group
(D) a feeling of euphoria and increased energy that occur while helping other people

The correct answer is (D).

According to Rabbi Benjamin Blech, a "baltsedoko" is a dispenser of charity; someone who contributes frequently and significantly to the poor.

Last year Oprah Winfrey told her "oylem" (audience) that they would each go home with a thousand ("toyznt") dollars.  But there was a catch/stipulation:  They had to spend the money on someone other than their family ("mishpokhe").

Little did these people know that they would soon be having a "helper's high." The phrase "helper's high" appeared in 1988 in Psychology Today magazine.

Researchers say the satisfaction ("naches") people get from volunteering or sharing time and talents with others enjoy longer life spans than people who focus on "gimme."

Pam Kettering (United Way & Volunteer Services) says that during the time of helping others, they  feel stimulated.  Highs, warmth ("varemkayt"), and increased energy are often mentioned when describing their physical reactions.

Ms. Kettering says that "Taking time to help others may be a basic step to protect health.  There is a lot of stress in people's lives that ultimately affects their health. Passing up the opportunity to share time and talents with others may be a missed opportunity to feeling better ("beser")."

Big Brothers/Big Sisters of New York studied thousands of volunteers.  Those who helped two hours weekly found they have lower blood pressure, lower heart rates, less stress and less tension.

If you remember the old movie, "The Bells of Saint Mary, Bing Crosby gave an old miser ("kamtsn") advice for improving his health.  He told the "alt" man that helping others would make his heart get stronger. Service is strong "heart medicine" for every member of your family.

Murray Polner and Irv Saposnik were interviewed for a book titled, "Growing Up Jewish in America - An Oral History" by Frommer & Frommer.

Polner wrote, "All of the synagogues, all of the Talmud Torahs had illustrations of poor Jews, posters of Eretz Israel, and collection cans.  Everybody gave, no matter how little they had.  Every Passover we worked with the local Talmud Torahs, collecting food and delivering it to people who were out of work ("a-rum-gey-en-ley-dik") or in need.  My parents taught me that you've got to reach out, to be a humane mensch. They were Jewish to their bones, deep in their bones."

Irv Saposnik wrote, "My grandmother kept a whole collection of pishkes under the sink.  It seemed to me that there were constant visits by these bearded men, representatives of the various charities. They would sit down at the table.  She'd serve them tea in a glass ("glezel tai") with sugar lumps and share long conversations with them.  Then she'd take out the pishke for their particular charity.  They'd open up the box, spill out the change, and count it up."

There are many, many individuals who have found that "doing good makes one feel better."  Here are just a few examples:

.  Mike and Sue Turk, who, as Buttercup
   and Sweet Pea, founded Mitzvah Clowns
   to cheer ill adults and children and teach
   clowning skills to others.

.  Ranya Kelly (aka "The Shoe Woman of
   Denver"), who collects brand-new goods
   discarded by businesses and
   manufacturers and redistributes them to
   the needy/poor ("orem") in the U. S. and

.  John Beltzer, who started Songs of Love,
   which arranges for personalized songs
   to be written and recorded for severely
   ill children.

.  Syd Mandelbaum of "Rock and Wrap it
   Up."  He gathers leftover food from rock
   concerts, film shoots, schools, and other
   large events and distributes it to food
   pantries.  (His parents were Holocaust
   survivors, and as a child when he didn't
   want to eat his dinner, they would tell
   him stories about how they were starving
   for food when they were teenagers.)

.  Aaron Feuerstein, the owner/operator of
   the Malden Mills, in Malden, Mass, is a
   true "mensch."  When his plant had a fire,
   he continued to pay his staff and then
   returned them their job when the factory
   was rebuilt.

.  Trevor Ferrell, who, at 11-years-old,
   started handing out blankets and clothing
   to street people in Philadelphia.  He
   eventually founded Trevor's Place, a
   shelter for the homeless.

Bernard S. Raskas ("Heart Of Wisdom") told the story of a theater manager who was interviewing a "yungermantshik" (young, vigorous lad) for a job as an usher.  During the interview, the manager asked the applicant what he would do in case of fire. "Don't worry," said the boy.  "I'd get out all right."  (Yes, he was only concerned with saving his own neck.)  Raskas says, "No person should consider himself educated until he has visited a public mental hospital."

Today, many synagogues offer "Mitzvah Days."  Thousands of volunteers participate in projects, providing community service to both Jewish and non-Jewish organizations. When will we realize that "Mitvah Day" should be EVERYDAY.

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Marjorie Gottlieb Wolfe is the author of
two books:
yiddish for dog and cat loversbook
"Yiddish for Dog & Cat Lovers" and
"Are Yentas, Kibitzers, & Tummlers Weapons of Mass Instruction?  Yiddish
Trivia."  To order a copy, go to her

NU, what are you waiting for?  Order the book!

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