What Defines a Leader?

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Leadership comes in many shapes and sizes. Many times, leaders aren’t what they seem that they would be. Other times, leaders are better than people expecting them to be. And sometimes, leaders are flat out power hungry. Leaders look at their followers as teammates, or subjects, or helpers, or even friends. Most of the time, a leader’s intelligence can help get them support and followers, but other times, a leadership’s intelligence can give them a sense of invulnerablitiy and superiority.

 

I personally don’t think that intelligence is the key component to being a good leader. I think you need to have empathy, adaptivity, and critical thinking skills. Intelligence is a bonus, but it is certainly not the only thing that goes into making a quality leader. You need to have empathy because you need to understand what your followers are feeling and what their thought process is. Without empathy, a leader would be stuck in their own self-awareness to realize the doubts their team is having.

 

Without adaptivity, leaders wouldn’t be able to adapt to situations where there team needs a leader. Also, with adaptivity, a leader can keep calm under pressure because he can adapt to the situation and think of the best solution.

 

Critical thinking is perhaps the most important skill to have as a leader. You need critical thinking to solve the problems at hand and come up with the best solution. Using critical thinking, a leader can determine the best route to take while coming up with a plausible plan for a course of action.

 

All in all, intelligence is definitely an important factor to being a good leader, but it is absolutely not the only thing that can make or break a leader.

 

May 24th 2016 8th Grade, L.A., reading, reflection

One of the Last.

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I can’t believe it, but it is one of our last mitzvah projects. I talk a lot about what we do in school, but now I’m going to talk about what we do next. Honestly, I don’t know if I will have the time to do a  mitzvah project every week, but I won’t throw away everything I have learned. I still to be somebody who helps people and gives them joy, but I don’t know how consistent I will be.

What I really want to continue doing projects revolving around the ethical treatment if animals. I’ve always been incredibly attached to this mitzvah because I absolutely love animals. I just feel like even without the mitzvah trip program, I will still be able to find a way to work with animals.

All in all, the mitzvah trip program has taught me so much that lesson plans can’t. I got to see how giving to people in need impacts them so much in their life. I definitely reflect on my time doing mitzvah trips and really look forward to seeing what I end up doing.

Pesach at Mt. Carmel.

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Last Friday, the middle school went to Mt. Carmel to perform a model seder. Many of the residents are in the upper ages and can’t travel to a seder, so we bring the seder to them. Also, many of the residents do not speak English, so it was kind of a hassle with the introductions. Just because we may not have spoken the same language, doesn’t mean it’t not important. It’s still important because they’ll know that it is a seder no matter the language.

We go back almost every year for two simple reasons. The first is because we are all part of the Jewish community, so it is our job to help those in our community. The second reason is because, as I said before, many of the residents can’t travel to have a seder anymore, so it is our duty to bring the seder to them.

April 19th 2016 8th Grade, Jewish Studies, JOURNAL, L.A.

New York, New York!

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Last week, the eighth grade went on a class trip to New York. Since we obviously couldn’t participate in the mitzvah project, we are to post a picture that from New York that means a lot to us.

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This means a lot to me because we have all been through good and bad times, but in the end, we are all still united.

April 5th 2016 8th Grade, Jewish Studies, JOURNAL, L.A.

Sunflowers aren’t Always Pretty.

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Recently, the eighth grade finished reading The Sunflower by Simon Wiesenthal. The book was the story of how a dying Nazi asked a Jew to forgive him for his sins. I’m not going to say what the Jew did, but in the back of the book, many scholars and students wrote about what they would have done and why. As an assignment, we had to write our very own symposium telling what we would have done, what Jewish law would want us to do, and a quote that is, on some level, related to the event.

 

To be honest, I have never been in a situation like the one SImon was put in to and if I was, I would have done the exact same thing. It sounds incredibly mean and immoral, but think about all of the pain, suffering, and deaths that Nazi has caused. In my eyes, all I would be doing if I walked away would be leaving him to suffer in the realization that he has caused more suffering than change.

 

Now, in Judaism, it says to care for the wounded and ill, but I would have disobeyed the Jewish law because how could I care for somebody who didn’t care not only about the ill, but life in general. On the other hand, there is a Jewish law that says one must kill or stop a predator if lives are in danger, so the fact that I didn’t kill him and instead let him suffer is far better than what he did to Jews. Also, one more Jewish law says that one shall not quicken one’s death, so in actuality, I did keep Jewish law while also being able to let the Nazi suffer.

 

“The only antidote to mental suffering is physical pain” is a quote by Karl Marx that defines what I am trying to say. It shows that if you want to be forgiven for causing pain, you must endure the pain you’ve caused yourself. The Jews he killed went through much worse than what the Nazi has been going through in the infirmary and he is just lucky a human body cannot endure as much pain as he has caused.

 

The Two Purim Mitzvot!

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During Purim, there are two main mitzvot, or commandments, that we try very hard to observe. The first mitzvah is Mishloach Manot. Mishloach Manot is bags full of sweets and treats that we give to our friends. The second one is less commonly known, but still important. That one is called Matanot La Evyonim. Matanot La Evyonim are gifts which are donated to the poor. There is a tradition that you are supposed to give either as much money or food that is worth a meal. These may seem similar, but they are very different. The only major difference is the fact that the gifts go to different “types” of people.

These mitzvot are extremely important because helping the poor is not only a mitzvah, but a righteous act that you should do whenever you can. Sometimes during the year, we forget that we are supposed to be kind, so in order to show our genuine kindness, we give the basket of sweets to resemble our sweet thoughts and wishes.

March 15th 2016 8th Grade, Jewish Studies, JOURNAL, L.A.

Come On In!

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During Pesach, it is usual for Jews who are having seders at their houses to invite people who don’t have anywhere to go for a nice seder to remember their heritage and ancestors. I’ve been on both ends of this mitzvah and I honeslty like being the one who invites others to our seder. For many years, my sisters and I have invited one or two of our non-Jewish friends to come and see what their friends are doing when they say it’s Passover. They see how we remember our ancestors and they follow along as we sing and eat and sometimes they even try the wierd food. It’s so cool and honestly sometimes funny to see how non-Jewish people react to seeing how much our religions are alike. It’s made me realize how sometimes it doesn’t really matter what religion you are, you can still learn about other religions without causing conflict.

March 4th 2016 8th Grade, Jewish Studies, JOURNAL, L.A.

I Declare My Freedom!

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As an American Jew, the words, “that they are endowed by their creator to certain, unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness” mean to me that no matter what race, religion, or ethnicity you are, you have the right to be happy. Also, it means that everybody should be able to pursue their dreams and also make a life for themselves.

So much today happens because of ones race, religion, and yes, gender. There is so much racism happening today and every time a tragedy occurs because of racism, a little part of me that believes in those words crumbles to dust. I’m not saying that I don’t believe in these words, I’m just saying that it shames me to be living under the same set of rules that these people, who don’t have consideration for life, are.

I am still incredibly proud to be an American Jew, but I am positive that people will realize what they’re doing wrong and come to their senses. People shouldn’t die because of the color of their skin, who they pray to, or where they’re from. Honestly, if Thomas Jefferson and the other signers of the Declaration were to see their country, I honestly think they would be ashamed.

February 22nd 2016 8th Grade, Jewish Studies, JOURNAL, L.A.

Beautifying a Mitzvah

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This week, I am supposed to give an example of how I observe hiddur mitzvah. Before I tell you all how I observe it, I’ll tell you what it is. Hiddur mitzvah is basically overdoing a mitzvah. It means to make a mitzvah prettier and more meaningful than it already was.

One way I observe Hiddur mitzvah is by decorating a sukkah. The mitzvah says to build a sukkah, it doesn’t say to decorate it and make it inviting. I love performing hiddur mitzvah because it gives me a sense of satisfaction knowing that I have not only done a mitzvah, but probably pleased God even more than he would’ve been. I hope I can continue to perform hiddur mitzvah because I love going over the top about things, so why not mitzvot.

February 16th 2016 8th Grade, Jewish Studies, JOURNAL, L.A.

Who Let the Dogs Out?!?!

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This week in the parsha, we were taught about Tzaar Baaleigh Chayim, the ethical treatment of animals. Personally, I am incredibly passionate about this because I have always loved animals and think that even some animals deserve life more than some humans. Most animals haven’t done anything but be our companions, and what do they get for it? Abused in the circus or tested on in a lab. I actually feel so passionate about this that I started a donation collar-making business thingy. What I do is I make collars out of paracord and set up a booth at rescue shelters and give the dogs being adopted collars. Whenever I get a tip(it’s free), I donate that money to no-kill rescue shelters so they can get more room for the animals. I can’t really do much more than I already am until I am old enough to volunteer at places. Until that day, I will do everything I can to make sure that all animals are treated fairly.

February 9th 2016 8th Grade, Jewish Studies, JOURNAL, L.A.