It's healthy to have a reality check once in a while.
We're all involved in doing good thingsand it's human nature to pat ourselves on the back for our achievements.
Occassionally you get to meet someone who is a real hero. You stand humbled; hopefully inspired.
I bumped a friend at a Barmitzvah tonight. We haven't seen each other in a few years, so we did some catch up.
He and his wife now live in Sumi, Ukraine (I had never heard of it either). They've finally got internet (it cuts out every other day), which is a good thing for their eight-year-old daughter. Now she can attend online classes and interact with half a dozen other girls her age on the web- her only Jewish friends. There is no Jewish school in the vicinity.
They milk a cow once a week to get kosher milk and bake their own bread. Meat gets delivered monthly from nearby Kharkov (a three-hour bump-ride).
There are no other religious Jews in Sumi. Most people who think they're Jewish are not. (Many of those convinced they are not, are). Most of the population lives below the bread line.
So why does my friend and his family live there?
Because there are Jews who don't know they are Jewish. Because there are Jews who need a soup kitchen. Because they are building a Sumi's first mikvah and Jewish pre-school (with what funds?).
Because they are Shluchim (emmissaries) of the Rebbe who care enough to live where the closest hospital is four hours away, and their children have no friends, and it's a three-hour commute to a mikveh, so they can help a few more Jews connect with their Judaism.
I stood humbled; hopefully inspired.