Rabbi brings the art of kindness to Joburg

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Johannesburg – At the corner of Rivonia Road and
Sandton Drive in Johannesburg, just
outside Sandton City, there are two
words, one on top of the other.

Be Kind, they say. They’re the first
in what David Masinter hopes will ultimately be a series of 18 art installations
around Johannesburg.

It’s a project to break the spiral of
negativity – particularly in the City of

“I’m tired of people saying this is a
crime city, that there’s nothing worth
celebrating. I want to motivate them
to think differently, but most of all just
to be kind.”

The artwork follows a poster board campaign
that ran for three months last
year, being suspended over December
and January,
and which will restart in

The campaign, stark in its simplicity,
merely injunctions to drivers and passers-by: “Tell someone They Look Great”
read one; “Just Be Kind” instructed
another; “Complain Less
, Smile More”,
“Make Someone A Coffee” and even,
“Call Your Mom”.

“We are just trying to bring the art
of kindness to Johannesburg,” says the
Chabad House Rabbi who was the architect of Acts of Random Kindness, the

little yellow plastic arks that have been
distributed to Johannesburgers for the
last five years for them to fill up with
unwanted change and given randomly
to those in need.

Masinter is a firm believer in the
overwhelming humanity and compassion of people – especially South Africans.

“There’s a teaching,” he says, “that
if someone does bad, speaks it or even
thinks it, a negative
energy is created.
On the other hand, if one does good,
speaks good, a positive
energy is created.”

So far, 700 000 arks have been distributed since 2014, with Masinter’s goal
being a million.

Added to that, 140 000 underprivileged children have benefited from
the parallel Chabad House literacy programme
that establishes township
libraries and trains teachers.
The art project and the billboard
to build on this.

“We’re not selling anything. We’re
only advertising kindness,” he says.

“All we are hoping to accomplish is
to foster an increase in acts of goodness
and kindness in our city and beyond –
and, by doing that, change the world

for good.”

* Ritchie is a media consultant.

** If you would like to participate in the project, email Masinter at [email protected]

Saturday Star

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