It so happens that the Shalom Food Pantry had a surplus of Kiwis and more than they could distribute before they’d go bad. So they asked us if students would enjoy them. We served them at Shabbos House, at Kosher-on-Fuller, some students really appreciated their taste and health-benefits, and then we took a couple of containers to give out Kiwis on campus.

Nobody had “Rabbi giving our Kiwis on Campus” on their Bingo card, so it was quite surprising and so random. Man, if we had a hidden Go-Pro camera some of the reactions were priceless! But we managed to give out about 50 Kiwis in the span of an hour, so that’s 50 brief positive interactions with people (plus those who weren’t interesting in the Kiwi for whatever reason) and it was lots of fruit-for-thought.

We learned a couple of things about Kiwis and people in that one hour:

“What’s the catch?” For too many nowadays it seems so foreign, rare and unusual for people to give something and ask for nothing in return. This doesn’t bode well for our (campus) society. We need more sharing and giving, random acts of kindness as they say.

Kiwis are (can be) polarizing. Some people love them, some very much not so. It was funny to watch what appeared to be and we assumed were couples/boyfriend-girlfriend etc where one would adamantly refuse and the other would be quite eager and interested. Kiwis aren’t the type of thing to wreck a relationship you know, but it is interesting to see the very different responses they elicit.

Speaking of polarization, this is a polarizing time, and there are some students (for various reasons and telltale signs, including posting of an anti-Israel poster) would very likely consider themselves on very opposing sides of an issue with a very visibly Jewish-looking bearded rabbi. But we still offered them a Kiwi, and in some it elicited a smile, a shy smile, a knowing smile. Hey, maybe there is some shared humanity in all this dehumanization. We’re under no delusions. We do not think giving Kiwis will bring world peace, but a little goodwill may ease some of the tense chill on a college campus. Maybe. Worth a shot, and some Kiwis.

Some students know (and love) their Kiwis, and know they can even be eaten whole, skin-on. That’s not everyone’s taste, especially as the skin/peel can be a bit hairy and rough.  But there’s a lesson in this: Few fruits can be eaten whole like that – from peel to seed. There’s a message here about those savoring and cherishing those unique blessings in life that are “good to the last drop” and can be thoroughly and completely enjoyed without special tools or processes, just goodness from A-Z.

It was quite remarkable to learn that some students had never heard of or tasted a Kiwi before! It’s like that sensation at the supermarket checkout when a cashier doesn’t recognize a zucchini and asked you what type of vegetable that is. Too much fast-food, not enough exposure.

Kiwis are nutrient-rich, and maybe a Superfood, because of how they pack lots of nutrients into a low-calorie yet high-fiber food. In too many foods those ratios are reversed, so its amazing how much nutrients and fiber (both highly health desirable) you get, for much less calories. So its like getting a lot of return on investment for less effort, or your efforts get more dividends and return than with many other fruits. Good bang for your buck! That high ratio of ROI (Return on Investment) is less common, and we ought to make the most of it.

There can be strange reasons why people go for things. One student was eager to take a Kiwi because it reminded him of….  you’ll never guess this: A favorite Polish soccer player that is either nicknamed Kiwi or has the letters Kiwi in his name. There a lot of factors that go into people’s decisions and choices, and they’re not all created equal.

One reason people wouldn’t go for it, is that they didn’t know how they’d eat it. They had no utensil, no plate or bowl. But enough students weren’t stymied by that. They either just bit right into it (as stated above, the peel is edible, though many prefer not) or put it in a pocket to eat later. On a figurative sense, this reminds us of a Yiddish expression: “They don’t know how to eat this!” or “They don’t have what to eat this with!” – in terms of not having the skills or tools to be able to absorb or internalize an idea, they don’t know how to digest it.

Students can be hungry. Sometimes they’re in a rush, got up late or running late, and didn’t have time to make something or pick something up, and this little treat may just tie them over. Sometimes it doesn’t take much to help someone get through a lean time. A little helps them go a long way.