PASSAIC Shmuel and Shoshana Greenbaum had been married just 15 months when an Arab terrorist ended Shoshana’s life with a bomb detonated in Sbarro Pizzeria in Jerusalem on Aug. 9, ‘001. An experienced teacher, the mother-to-be was to have started working the next month at the Yeshiva of North Jersey in River Edge.
Shmuel Greenbaum was moved to teach about kindness after his wife, Shoshana, was killed in a terror bombing in Jerusalem.
Nobody would have blamed Shmuel Greenbaum if he’d drowned in grief and bitterness. But that’s not his style.
"I imagine that I am the only terror victim who does not focus on anger and hatred," said Greenbaum, 43, a city resident who will speak on "Coping With Tragedy: Fighting Terror With Kindness" Tuesday at 8 p.m. at Cong. Keter Torah in Teaneck.
"Kindness has been my personal response to terror," said Greenbaum. "After my wife’s violent murder, I began a project to teach people how to be kinder."
The January after her death, he started PartnersInKindness.org, which provides non-sectarian material to inspire schools, employers, governments, and the general public to do acts of kindness. Some ’00 organizations have requested material so far.
He also founded TraditionOfKindness.org, a Web-based effort "to show people of all religions that Jewish kindness is demonstrated daily in every country, every city, and every town." People can report their daily acts of kindness through the site and also post job openings.
"At the moment, we have more than 40,000 subscribers on six continents to our Daily Dose of Kindness e-mail," he said.
A programmer at the Manhattan Transit Authority, Greenbaum finds the time to speak to groups all over the country; he particularly enjoys addressing public school students. He’s also been to Canada, Cyprus, and Israel, and is booked for a talk to Jewish schoolchildren in Rome later this month.
He’s working on a book to be titled "In Love With Israel," about people who do acts of kindness out of their love for Israel, and he’s hoping to start writing a syndicated Jewish newspaper column.
"I get e-mails all the time from people in Israel telling me that they had lost hope in humanity and were paralyzed," he said. "The e-mails allow people to put their lives in perspective and realize that that there are people all over the world who have less than they do, and who know less than they do, but who give of themselves more."
Greenbaum likes to tell listeners how they can make a difference in other people’s lives.
"When I speak, many of the participants put themselves in my position and wonder how I can be so positive," he said. "We usually discuss it in the questions that they ask afterwards. Those discussions are the most important part."
He admits to loneliness he has not yet remarried but claims never to have moments of anger. "If you have somebody you can focus your anger on, a person you can name, I guess it’s much easier to be angry," he said. "My feeling is that I’m going to focus my energy on what I can do most with it. And I believe our purpose as Jews is to bring kindness into the world. That’s what it means to be a light among the nations."