The Chesed Club, run by middle schoolers and teacher Mrs. Gold, has been a fixture at Akiba for a few years now. This year, however, it kicked into high gear when Judaics teacher Baila Brackman’s 11-year-old son Shmulie was diagnosed with leukemia. What, the students asked, could they do to support Shmulie and the Brackman family? It began with the entire Middle School saying one perek (chapter) of Tehillim each day before going to class. Wanting to do more, the Chesed Club created #teamshmulie wristbands that they sold for $2 each. They assembled and sold Passover cookbooks and baked challah to raise funds. In the spirit of “you’re not alone in this,” they also organized an actual team Shmulie to ride Bike the Drive in Shmulie’s honor, and raised more than $4,700 to support Chai Lifeline, an organization that has been a great support to Shmulie and his family. (Loving Kindness), however, is not just an extra-curricular effort at Akiba. While the 8th graders were on their Israel trip, the 7th graders learned about and discussed Chesed each morning. They went on a Chesed field trip, visiting local Jewish charitable organizations like the ARK, the Chicago Chesed Fund, and Bigdei Yisrael. They also welcomed speakers to learn about their organizations: Jessica Kaz (Lone Soldier Connect), Elliot Cohen (YACHAD) and Tzippy Dukes (Friendship Circle). This unit prepared them for next year, when all 7th graders, either independently or in a small group, will be responsible for running their own Chesed project.