We all know that KIND bars are your favorite snack on the go, but do you know the sto­ry behind this incred­i­ble brand, not to men­tion its Jew­ish con­nec­tion? Today we offer a sneak peek from Do the KIND Thing: Think Bound­less­ly, Work Pur­pose­ful­ly, Live Pas­sion­ate­ly, which was writ­ten by the CEO and founder of KIND Health Snacks, Daniel Lubet­zky. The book will be avail­able tomor­row, so be sure to pick up a copy!

Being the son of a Holo­caust sur­vivor marks you and makes you acute­ly con­scious of our human frailty. My burn­ing com­mitment to build bridges [between peo­ple and cul­tures] stems from a sur­vival instinct: to pre­vent what hap­pened to my dad from hap­pen­ing again to oth­er human beings. Part of the rea­son I exist today is that my grand­fa­ther and my father were always kind to people. 

The birth of KIND and its social mis­sion [to make the world a lit­tle kinder] were stirred by this his­to­ry. When brain­storm­ing brand names for the healthy fruit and nut snack bar we were going to make, the name KIND par­tic­u­lar­ly spoke to me because my dad’s essence, the rea­son he had sur­vived the Holo­caust, and the way he had lived after­ward were all con­nect­ed to com­pas­sion. He treat­ed every­one as an equal, whether a bank teller or the bank pres­i­dent. His life taught me that kind­ness and empa­thy are the foun­da­tions on which human­i­ty will stand or fall. 

Look­ing back, his entire sto­ry was a string of kind­ness. He [my father] was born in 1930 in Riga, Latvia, and raised in Kovno, Lithua­nia, where my grand­fa­ther, Sioma, had a small busi­ness mak­ing corsets. My grand­moth­er, Rosa, told me a sto­ry about my father that sums up his abil­i­ty to empathize and his kind­ness. When he was four or five years old, a poor child knocked on the door of the fam­i­ly home in Lithua­nia. It was a cold win­ter night, and the child was ask­ing for food. My father went into the kitchen to make the oth­er child a sand­wich. As he piled onto the sand­wich every­thing that he him­self would want to eat, my grand­moth­er told him to hur­ry, because the child wouldn’t wait, but would go beg some­where else. When my father returned to the front door with the sand­wich, the child was gone. He ran out into the street, bare­foot in the snow and with­out a coat, to find the oth­er boy and give him the food.

As he grew up and war approached, my father fre­quent­ly got into scrapes with local kids who would shout anti-Semit­ic taunts and oth­er­wise both­er the Jew­ish kids. When the Nazis invad­ed Lithua­nia, life for the Jews quick­ly wors­ened. My dad was nine years old when the war started.

Mas­sive pogroms swept Lithua­nia as the Ger­man occu­pa­tion took hold. A huge per­cent­age of the Jews were killed at the time. One day, the porter took Ger­mans dressed in mil­i­tary uni­forms into my father’s apart­ment. They harassed and threat­ened to shoot my fam­i­ly; then they took my grand­moth­er into anoth­er room. My dad was too young to under­stand what may have hap­pened when she came out cry­ing. He remem­bered that they even­tu­al­ly pushed every­one out of the apart­ment into the gar­den down­stairs and said, We are going to shoot you.” The porter then whis­pered some­thing to the sol­diers, and they walked away. The porter told my fam­i­ly to go upstairs. Then he came up and said, Open up.”

In an inter­view my cousin Serge Bluds record­ed with my dad about this inci­dent, here was my dad’s rec­ol­lec­tion of what the porter then said to my grandfather:

Lubet­zky, I want you to know that to every apart­ment of this build­ing I brought the Ger­mans and I made them kill every Jew here. Except you. And to you, I let you live because you were a per­son who always would offer me your hand, shake my hand … you would give me a lit­tle bot­tle of vod­ka, would talk to me like a decent per­son, and this is why I don’t want you to die, because you are a good man.” 

Then my dad con­tin­ued, This was a very impor­tant les­son to me at the time. To remem­ber that even such an ani­mal like this guy rec­og­nized that some­one was humane to him and it paid off to be humane and not be, you know, with your nose in the air.”

The porter then com­mand­ed my fam­i­ly to leave the apart­ment before he changed his mind.

As hor­ri­ble as the inci­dent was, it was not lost on my father that my grandfather’s thought­ful­ness toward oth­ers had spared his family.

My father, his fam­i­ly, and the remain­ing Kovno Jews were herd­ed into ghet­tos, where they were kept under hor­ri­ble and humil­i­at­ing con­di­tions. Those who sur­vived were sent to a near­by con­cen­tra­tion camp, which pro­duced tin­der from the local forests to feed Ger­man tanks dur­ing wartime gas short­ages. That was where my father and his fam­i­ly end­ed up.

But even amid the worst cir­cum­stances, the human spir­it shows itself. My father nev­er for­got a Ger­man sol­dier who took risks by throw­ing at my dad’s feet a rot­ten pota­to that pro­vid­ed him the sus­te­nance to go on. Although he could have got­ten in trou­ble for help­ing a pris­on­er, that sol­dier risked his own safe­ty to feed my dad. My dad always said that pota­to — that fleet­ing mo­ment of kind­ness — helped him stay alive.

My dad had the rare strength of being able to recall that dread­ful chap­ter of his life with­out let­ting it embit­ter him. He lived a life that was ful­filled, opti­mistic, and pos­i­tive, and, as much as it emo­tion­al­ly drained him, he fre­quent­ly spoke about his Holo­caust expe­ri­ences, so that we may nev­er per­mit such tragedies to befall human­i­ty again. 

Today, build­ing bridges between peo­ple and cul­tures is espe­cial­ly impor­tant, both with­in com­pa­nies and through­out the larg­er world, giv­en all the chal­lenges we will face in the com­ing years. The only way we can win against those chal­lenges is to rec­og­nize that we have to fight on the same side. My vision is even­tu­al­ly to build a glob­al move­ment of cit­i­zens who are proud of their own her­itage as well as of our shared human val­ues. I rec­og­nize how hard a road it will be… but are we going to give up and not try? We can­not afford to just stand idle.

From the book DO THE KIND THING: THINK BOUND­LESS­LY, WORK PUR­POSE­FUL­LY, LIVE PAS­SION­ATE­LY by Daniel Lubet­zky, the CEO & Founder of KIND Health Snacks. Copy­right © 2015 by Daniel Lubet­zky. Reprint­ed by arrange­ment with Bal­lan­tine, an imprint of Ran­dom House, a divi­sion of Pen­guin Ran­dom House LLC. All rights reserved.

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