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Week 25: "The 'Challah-it-Forward' Butterfly Challenge!"

Daniel Barash

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Doughnuts, the red carpet, and butterflies, oh my!

What do these three things have in common? They were all championed (in the best possible way) by Chris Rosati. Who is this man, and what is his incredible story? And what does this have to do with Challah-it-Forward?!

A couple years ago, Chris Rosati, a father of two from North Carolina, found out that he had ALS, Lou Gehrig’s Disease. Upon learning of the grim prognosis and the hardships that lay ahead, instead of wallowing in despair, he decided to dedicate the rest of his life to giving and spreading joy, hopefully inspiring others in the process.

His first project: The desire to “steal” a Krispy Kreme donut truck and give away 1,000 donuts, for no other reasons than to see the recipients smile and to experience joy. While he knew he actually couldn’t steal a truck(!), when Krispy Kreme heard about his dream through a Facebook post, they outfitted him with a huge "Donut Express," and Rosati spent one day delivering 1,000 donuts to city parks, cancer wards, children’s hospitals and schools.

His second initiative: A film project called BIGG (“Big Ideas for the Greater Good). For this challenge, Rosati invited the kids in his community to come up with something BIGG, then videotape it. The short films would then be premiered at a “red carpet” event. He received a flurry of submissions, including one from children who set up a “Wheel of Kindness” at a local mall. Participants would spin, and then do whatever kind thing it landed on, such as hugging ten random nearby strangers. From the stage that evening, Rosati said: "You have the ability to change the world with just an act of kindness.”

Which leads us to his third, and most recent endeavor: “The Butterfly Effect.” This is the idea that a lone butterfly flapping its wings on one side of an ocean can, theoretically, start a hurricane on the other. Rosati asked himself if this theory could be applied to kindness as well. So a little while back, he tested it out at a diner in his hometown of Durham, North Carolina.

After seeing two girls at a table next to his, he gave them each $50, with only one simple request—do something kind. It didn’t take long for the girls to know exactly what to do; their dad had worked for the Peace Corps in a village in Sierra Leone, and they heard that the people there had recently been working very hard to fight Ebola. Upon hearing that the village was now Ebola-free, the girls paid for a feast to help them celebrate.

Rosati wasn’t aware of any of this, until about a month later, when he received a very special email. It included pictures from the village, with people holding signs that read, "Thanks a lot for spreading kindness -- Chris Rosati."

 "It was the butterfly effect," said Rosati.

 Rosati was so touched by this that he started the “little BIGG Grant Campaign.” Students across the country in grades K-12 are invited to submit a short video describing how they would use $50 to make an impact. If they are selected, they receive funding to carry out their idea.

Which leads us full circle to “Challah-it-Forward!” I was so inspired by this entire story that I decided to issue a “'Challah-it-Forward' Butterfly Challenge.” It’s pretty simple. If you express interest in participating, and then your name is pulled from a hat next Wednesday, March 25th, I will “Challah-it-Forward” a loaf of totally fresh, tasty challah to you for your Shabbat table (If you are not residing in the Bay Area, this won’t be possible, but I’ll send you some Bay Area chocolates instead!). AND I will sponsor, in your honor, a $50 Butterfly Grant, ensuring more “Butterfly Effects.”

You, in return, will commit to two simple things:

1)   Do something kind (it does NOT need to include baking) for others, a la the Butterfly Effect;

2)   Share it with the wider community by writing a “Guest Challah Bloggah” post over the coming months.

Do it by yourself. Do it with your family. But please just enter your name to be a contender! Visit the Challah-it-Forward Facebook page to sign-up! And please post on your own walls to your own networks!

All the best, and a hearty Shabbat Shalom!

 These could be on your Shabbat table!

These could be on your Shabbat table!