Hecht
Rabbi Schmuly Hecht of Chabad Okanagan, left, explains a new initiative called 'Noah's Ark' to children at the Balsam independent school in Kelowna on Thursday. By encouraging daily giving to good causes, it's designed to enhance a child's compassion  and empathy.

Recent anti-Semitic activity in Kelowna has prompted a Jewish organization and an independent school to launch a new program designed to counter hate.

Chabad Okanagan and the Balsam School started the initiative, which encourages children to save money everyday for a good cause, this week.

"If you want the future to be brighter and better, you have to nip hatred in the bud," says Rabbi Schmuly Hecht of Chabad Okanagan.

Children at the school have been given a small box shaped like Noah's Ark. They're encouraged to put money into it everyday, then donate it to a cause or charity of their choice.

"Lectures are important, but action is transformative," Hecht said. "The repetition of the daily giving brings subtle changes. It's like muscle memory."

Daily giving to a good cause, Hecht says, helps to broaden a child's compassion and empathy, and can make them more open to people of other cultures and circumstances.

Chabad organizations in other North American cities have had similar 'Noah's Ark' programs for years. Hecht says he hopes it can be expanded to other schools in the Kelowna area.

In mid-March, Kelowna RCMP investigated after anti-Semitic posters were found in neighbourhoods near Kelowna General Hospital. Mayor Colin Basran denounced the posters, saying they were put up by people whose "ignorant voices represent a small fringe in contrast to the many thousands in Kelowna who believe in inclusion, diversity, and civility".