Journal 15- The Sulzbacher Center

Last Friday, we went as our mitzvah trip to the Sulzbacher Center, a homeless center in Downtown Jacksonville. It is different than most homeless shelters, though. It serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner every day. Most shelters only serve one or two meals a day. Our job there was to take down all of the Christmas decorations on the bulletin boards and put up new decorations on the boards. I worked with Benjamin C on a board, and we wrote 6-7 quotes on the board, one of which was written by me and another by Benjamin.

At the shelter, the verse Jeremiah 29:11 was painted on the wall “I know the plans I have for you”, Declares the Lord. “Plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Our job for this post was to write why would this quote be at a homeless shelter. I think that it would be there for many reasons. One, to show the homeless people that they were put there for a reason. There is a bigger plan, and they being in their time of distress is one part of the plan. Something better will happen to them that requires them to have some suffering now.

The second reason is because the workers wish to give the homeless people hope. They are telling them that although you need some help now, a little help back on your feet, things are going to get better. You’re not going to stay this way forever. You just need a little guidance during this time of peril, and God has a plan for you. He’s going to help you and make you happy once again.

Help the homeless!

Help the homeless!

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In the Desert

I am an Israelite, from the tribe of Naftali. I, when in Egypt, was assigned as a foreman over the other slaves. When Moses came, I believed him from the beginning. I always felt that our savior would come from G-d. He was always watching over us, even at the worst times. My wife and friends thought I was just silly and a little too optimistic.

They were convinced a little when they heard about Aaron’s staff swallowing Pharaoh’s magicians’ staffs. They all were completely sure when the Nile was turned into blood. In the ten months of the plagues, we were glad that the Egyptians were punished. We felt no gratitude for them, after brutally forcing us to do the cruelest jobs just for their entertainment. We were especially happy after the plague of lice was over, because then we stopped working for the Egyptians. We were even happier after the plague of boils, because then our actual servitude in Egypt was over. We rejoiced along with all of our brethern as we left Egypt.

We happily witnessed the splitting of the Reed Sea, and sang songs of praise to God. At Marah, however, everybody rebelled. I strongly advised against it, telling them that we could find water elsewhere, but they rebelled. They would not trust God! I sadly watched as my brothers openly rebelled against God who took us out of Egypt. A few weeks later, when the food ran out, even I complained a bit.

 How would we survive? I wondered. We could find other water springs in the desert, but food was impossible to find. We didn’t see any animals in the desert, and nothing grew. I was wrong, though. God rained down mann, the greatest food ever to behold us. Holy food, sent straight down from heaven. Dew fell, and then the mann, and then more dew covered it. It was like it was in a package from heaven. It tasted like whatever we wished it to. It could be cold, hot, dairy, meat, fruits, vegetables… We were always sure that God would provide for us. I guess you want me to tell you what my mann tasted like, huh? Well, I shall. My mann tasted like fish. Fish with lemon juice on it for extra flavoring.

Journal 14- Respect before Torah?

דרך ארץ קדמה לתורה – Derech Eretz Precedes Torah. What could this phrase mean? The Talmud and Midrash say that derech eretz (literal translation: way of the land) has over 200 interpratations, some of them being respectful, decent, polite, thoughtful, and using civilized behavior. Why is doing this more important than Torah? Well, a great Sage once said that “Love your fellow as yourself” is the whole Torah, and the rest is commentary. Derech Eretz is about respecting yourself and others.

This means to me that we should always go out of our way to respect others and be good people. We, as Jews, are role models for the Jewish people. If we do something wrong, a person might think, “All Jews are like that.” Then, the world will hate us. It’s possible that’s why the Inquisition, the Crusades, the Holocaust all happened. A Jew might’ve offended Pharaoh, so he decided to throw all of the Jewish boys into the Nile. A Jew could’ve insulted Hadrian and that’s why he slaughtered us. A Jew possibly said Pope Urban II had a funny hat and a Muslim said he should wear a green robe, so he instigated the Crusades.

I believe that we should all follow this verse by putting other people before ourselves. For example, if you are reading a book you might eat around it, but if you’re borrowing it then you don’t eat around it. You should be respectful to others and be a role model. I do this by doing little things like offering to let people talk first, or giving them things. I also volunteer to do little errands. I could do better by not being disrespectful and rude to others, and being quiet. As a school, we could continue with the Community of Kindness program and actually educate us on what is right and wrong, actually teaching us what that means. We should be doing that at least once a week, for an hour or so. I am sure that we would have positive results from that experience.

Note: I could not get this picture to load, so here is the link to it:

A Short Video, A Simple (but important) Concept

This week, in Hebrew class, we watched a news video from Israel about Muslims who work in a grocery store in London, England. The problem was that Muslims are prohibited from drinking, owning, or, for the very observant, even touching alcohol. When a British person once tried to check out alcohol, the Muslim cashier politely asked the customer to go to another register. The customer got very upset and started yelling at the cashier. Eventually, it was settled and the supermarket apologized to both cashier and customer.

In school, we have been learning about a concept called Think Win-Win. A Win-Win is where both people win in an arguement or conflict. For example, a person recieves a candy bar and then another person wants it. If the first person gives the candy bar to the other person, it is a Lose-Win. If the first person keeps the candy bar, it is a Win-Lose. If they fight over it and the candy bar gets destroyed, it is a Lose-Lose. If they split the candy bar, it is a Win-Win. We were asked to define this cashier-customer conflict. I believe that it was a Win-Lose because the angry customer eventually got their drink and emotions repaired, while all the cashier got was an apology with no consideration for religion. I hope that this arguement will not happen again in the future.


Science- Page 14, Question 6

Combine your understanding of how Earth became spherical and observations of the Moon. Then form a hypothesis about the formation of the Moon.

Earth formed 4.6 billion years ago, like the rest of our solar system. It was formed by a nebula, a cloud of gas, ice, and dust. The nebula shrank and flattened into a disk, and it began to move in a circle. The center formed into the Sun. Then, with the remaining materials, Earth and the other planets formed. Earth became spherically shaped by gravity, powered by the heat being produced by the interior, pulling in the lumps or Earth’s surface. People used to observe Earth’s shadow on the Moon to find Earth’s true shape. I believe that the Moon was formed when some leftover particles from Earth’s early years and the nebula tried to became part of Earth, but were shot back by something. Then, they formed together to become the Moon.