Journal 17- Ruby Bridges

Ruby Nell Bridges was born on September 8, 1954 in Tylertown, Mississippi. She moved to New Orleans when she was four. At the age of six, she passed a test administered by the Nation Association for the Advancement of Colored People for black students to join the better white schools, as part of the integration program. Six students were chosen from New Orleans. Out of those six, two decided to stay where they were, three went to McDonogh No. 19, and Ruby went to William Frantz Elementary. She had to be escorted by U.S. Marshals everywhere because of segregation, even to the bathroom.

Every day, as she walked to school surrounded by the marshals, there were crowds of people protesting her joining the school. On her first day, she had to sit in the office the whole day. One woman would scream that she would poison Ruby; another waved a little black doll in a coffin at Ruby’s face. Bridges said later that the coffin scared her the most. None of the teachers would teach her except for Mrs. Barbara Henry, a woman from Boston. Since all of the parents pulled their kids out of school in protest of Ruby’s joining, she was the only child in the whole school for a year.  Their whole family suffered because of this; Ruby’s father, Adon, lost his job, and they were banned from entering stores.

The next year, everything changed. There were about twenty other students in her class, and she wasn’t the only black girl in the school. Ruby Bridges was an extremely brave girl who was able to start the change of racial segregation until how we know it today. Even after graduating school, she went on the found the Ruby Bridges Foundation, which was formed to try to stop all forms of discrimination and segregation.

Ruby Bridges (second from right) meets with President Obama.

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Solving Shadows

For this week’s Math Blog Post, I drew a picture of how you can solve the height of a shadow. It doesn’t have to be just used for shadows, however.

Displaying image.jpg

Let me explain:

Step 1: Convert the feet into inches by multiplying by 12. Fred is 5 feet, 2 inches, which is 62 inches. The building is 50 feet, 2 inches, which is 602 inches. The building’s shadow is 60 feet, which is 720 inches. Remember that we are solving for Fred’s shadow.

Step 2: Put the inches into a formula:

Fred’s height                       Building’s height

__________             =         _____________

Fred’s shadow                   Building’s shadow

The above formula is put into effect in the picture above. When you multiply 62 (Fred’s height) by 720 (Building’s shadow), you get 44,640.

Step 3: Divide.

Divide 44,640 by 600, and you get 74.4. But that’s not the answer. You must divide 74.4 by 12 to put it into feet and inches. 74.4 divided by 12 is 6.2, which is rounded to 6 feet, 2.5 inches.

Journal 16- “My Legs Were Praying”


Today is Martin Luther King Jr. Day. We celebrate the life of Martin Luther King Jr., a great man who helped end segregation, but was killed in the process. He was aided by Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel, a prominent Conservative rabbi who marched arm-in-arm with MLK from Selma to Montgomery in 1965. Rabbi Heschel later wrote, “When I marched in Selma, I felt my legs were praying.”

I believe that Rabbi Heschel believed he was doing a holy action by marching. He was trying to stop evil in the world and to make all people equal. He was doing a very great mitzvah by marching with MLK Jr. He participated in the march because Jews aren’t just supposed to care about themselves; that would be selfish and wrong. Instead, we are taught to try to make the whole world a better place and help all people.

The march from Selma to Montgomery was a little over fifty miles. If another civil rights march occurred, I would try to join it. Theoretically, a march could be arranged to walk from Jacksonville to St. Augustine, a distance about 41 miles long. The march would be organised in protest of the shootings that happened in Ferguson, Cleveland, and New York City. I would definitely walk some part of it because even though these shootings happened hundreds of miles away, they still matter to me. Racial discrimination must end today.

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Rabbi Heschel presenting the Judaism and World Peace award to MLK Jr.

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Should Students be Forced to Take After-School Activities?

For Language Arts, we had to write a persuasive essay. I chose to write about whether or not we should be forced to write if schools should force kids to take after-school activities. I said no. Here’s why.


Picture this: You just got back from a basketball practice and you are all sweaty and tired. After grabbing a snack, you head to your room to get some homework done. You are in the middle of a tricky math problem when your mom comes in. “Honey, the principal just sent an email to all of the parents. From now on every student has to take one of the school’s after-school activities.”


“But Mom, I can’t! I already have basketball on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Sundays, and on Mondays I have Student Council meetings! And also, every Wednesday I babysit for that family down the block.”


“I’m sorry, but the school board decided that every student has to take one of the school’s elective or every one of their grades will drop down five points.”


Do you think this is fair? Forcing kids to do more school-required activities after school? I don’t, and here’s why.


The first reason is because schools already give kids after-school activities in the form of homework. Many kids have at least two hours of homework a day, not including time to study for tests. A kid has at least one test a week, sometimes two or three. That studying adds another hour of school activities at home. It isn’t fair to make kids do activities after school when they need to concentrate on keeping their grades up.


Another point of why kids shouldn’t be forced to do the school’s extracurricular activities is because kids already have other activities. As mentioned in the scenario above, the boy was complaining to his mother because he already had events every day except for Saturday. Many kids are already busy and by doing what the school offers, they may have to cancel training in a subject which they’re really good at, such as playing the piano.




The last reason I will mention is that kids may not be able to attend. Some kids live in bad homes where they’re not allowed to do anything or get abused. Others live with almost constantly drunk parents who wouldn’t let them go. Other parents may be very protective of their children and not want them to participate. Some kids may have to work after school to provide for their family and can’t take time off to do this. The school doesn’t know how every family works.


In conclusion, schools should not force kids to participate in after-school activities set up by the school for a number of reasons. They may not want to go, they may be too busy to go, or they cannot go for personal reasons.



We recently learned about ratios in Geometry class. This is not a new concept, so I learned it pretty easily. I decided to teach you guys about it.

A ratio can be found on a map. You may see on a map a mini-ruler and then text that says 1 in = 2 miles. This means that for every inch you measure on the map, it equals two miles in real life. Now, what would ou do if you wanted to find distance on a map?

Say Spot A is 3.5 inches away from Spot B on the map. Since every inch is equal to two miles, you just have to multiply 3.5 by 2.

3.5 x 2 = 7

So, Spot A is 7 miles away from Spot B!


Journal 15- My Bar Mitzvah

Last week, I had my bar mitzvah, the Jewish passage into adulthood. I had a large ceremony and lunch, on which I gave a speech related to the Torah portion of the week. Enclosed is my Dvar Torah, the speech that I gave.


Good Shabbos! This week’s parsha, Shemos, begins the Book of Exodus. Pharaoh issues harsh decrees against the Israelites, beginning decades of Jewish suffering and slavery. Moses is born and raised in the Egyptian royal palace. After killing an Egyptian, Moses escapes to Midian and marries. G‑d appears to him in a burning bush and demands that he return to Egypt to redeem the Israelites. Moses returns to Egypt with the intention of freeing the Jewish people.


Now, you may ask, why do we need to know this? The parsha, set like an episode in a reality TV show, chronicles the first 80 years of Moshe’s life. Moshe is born in an atmosphere of slavery, and then thrust into the world of Egyptian royalty at the age of twelve, according to the midrash. Without those fundamental first years of learning and establishing a strong Jewish basis in Moshe, he probably would’ve succumbed to peer pressure and abandoned his Jewish roots much like us today. According to Chassidic texts, he would then rise to become the overseer of Pharaoh’s palace, and then be forced to flee Egypt at the age of 18 in defense of his people to kingdom of Kush in modern-day Ethiopia. He would then serve in the army their and eventually reign as king for forty years. From there he continued on to Midian, where he married Yisro’s daughter Tziporrah and served as a shepherd. As a poor shepherd, God appeared to him in the form of a burning bush ad commanded him to become a leader once again, but this time of Bnai Yisrael, to take them out of Egypt and confront the same Pharaoh who he had to flee from sixty-two years ago. What would you do if you openly saw a direct miracle- a burning bush that was not consumed- and God’s voice came from it, commanding you to go to Egypt and free His people? You would do it, right? Not in Moshe’s case. In fact, the midrash tells us that it took Hashem a week to convince Moshe to take the leadership? Why would Moshe be so stubborn?

The answer is simple; humility. The very trait that Moshe was praised for was also his weakness. In his own opinion, he didn’t believe he was worthy of such a task; after all, he had killed a man! Moshe quietly suggested his older brother Aharon as a candidate for such a task; after all, he had already been a prophet for eighty years. Because of that outrageous suggestion, Hashem got so angry at Moshe that he took away his ability to be a kohen! It was Moshe’s humility that caused him to lose the priesthood.This shows that extreme humility like Moshe’s is not always a good trait; you have to believe in yourself to succeed. It also shows that we must have belief in Hashem because he always wants what’s right for us. He always has a great plan for everything in the world. That is why even if we stub our toe, we have to think to ourselves that there was a reason for this. What can I learn from stubbing my toe? Should I move the cabinet to a spot farther away from my bed? Should I wear socks in the house? We are supposed to learn from everything. Even the slightest change can make a big effect. Every one of God’s tasks that we should perform, we shouldn’t oppose it, we shouldn’t doubt it. And I’m even talking about mitzvahs today such as praying and keeping kosher. We shouldn’t try to challenge God; look what happened to those who built the Tower of Bavel! Rather, we should perform it with “bchol lavvecha ovchol navshecha ovkol meodecha”- with all of our heart, all of our soul, and all of our might, just like we say in the Shema three times a day. Just like the story of Moshe, we too must tackle the daily obstacles in our life with a clear mind and set heart- and to always remember that somebody up there is watching out for us. Good Shabbos.

A Child’s Journey Through Ellis Island- Shmuel Menachem Kanievsky’s New World

I wrote this essay for the Daughters of the American Revolution contest, and I actually won for my grade in my chapter! It is now going to the state finals.


July 7, 1892


My Dearest Cousin and Friend, Moshe Shlomo Kaganovich,


I am writing this letter from Zeide’s home in Flatbush, New York. I have successfully passed through the trials of Ellis Island. You would not believe everything that I went through just to escape persecution. However, it was surely worth it. The old world of Russia is gone; a new hope in dy gyld’n’ l’and is dawning.

I immediately packed a few bags and left without saying goodbye. I walked to Sevastopol, and travelled across the Black Sea to Constantinople. When I got to the city, I realized the Saviour, my ship, left two days earlier!  I was devastated and overwhelmed with hopelessness. I wandered the streets for days and  prayed daily  “Let me go to America!” I suppose, as I am only thirteen years old, God answered me. Two days later, a man approached me, and offered to trade my ticket for a ticket on the Le Voyageur, a French ship that would be leaving the next day. I gladly accepted and found my way to the ship’s steerage area of filthy rooms and screaming children. I put my luggage down, remembering the clean ocean air.

We left the harbor of Constantinople at 5:00 P.M. The next day, as I said Shacharis, I was able to see the coastline of Greece. A week later, the Le Voyageur left Cadiz, Spain. The trip through the Mediterranean was beautiful and uneventful.  However, once we got to the Atlantic we didn’t see land for two weeks, and then everything went downhill!

Almost immediately everybody felt seasick. They went down to their beds to try to feel better; but the hull was no improvement. Our food started to run low because we had thirteen stowaways. By the time we neared New York, we did not have any food left in steerage, and we smelled horrible. Entering the harbor, we were allowed on deck to see Lady Liberty welcoming us into her country. Soon after, we headed towards Ellis Island.

A doctor came aboard our ship for a quick check, making sure everybody looked all right. We then began our wait for a ferry to Ellis Island, two more days for me.  During that time, American workers brought us meals, the first real food I’d had for a week. Eventually, the ferry came.

When I walked across the gangplank and stepped foot on the soil, I could not believe it. The building looked like a castle! I thought to myself, If this is a normal building in the United States, then what do mansions look like? I never saw anything like it in my life. I walked up to the door and saw a policeman. In Russia, this was a bad thing; the police meant evil. However, before I left, Zeide sent me a letter. He told me that the police here would help me. He also arranged for me to learn some English.

The police officer walked up to me. “Do you speak English, boy?”

“Yes, I know basic words.”

He responded, “Great. Place your bags here. I’ll move you to the Registration Room immediately. What ship did you come on?”

“The Le Voyageur.”

“Right this way.”

The policeman led me to a large building and up some stairs where I saw thousands of people in a gargantuan room. Everywhere I saw men in white coats-doctors-looking over new immigrants for a few seconds, scribbling something on a piece of paper and then saying, “NEXT!” I later found out that this was called a six-second physical.

After an hour, there were still 300 people ahead of me. Finally, I entered the Registration Room, where doctors were everywhere, checking our health. The doctor, a short, pudgy man, looked up at me. “Well, well, well. What do we have here? Another young immigrant?”

“I suppose so,” I said, as he checked my ears and mouth.

“Ah, you also speak English. Well, you’re quite healthy. Good luck and welcome to the United States.”

“Thank you”, I said.

I was ushered by a different policeman to a seven-hour line, where I waited for the legal test. I was given lunch while I waited. Soon enough, my turn came. I was met by the interrogator. “Do you speak English?”


“Let me see your tag.”

“I see,” he said after looking at it. “I am now going to ask you twenty-nine questions. First off, What is your name?”

“Shmuel Menachem Kanievsky.”

“Where were you born?”

“Ovruch, Russia. In Ukraine.”

“Did you come with anybody?”


“Is anybody expecting you?”

“Yes, my grandfather.”

The questions went on and on until I was cleared. I went up a set of stairs that said “To New York” and exchanged my Russian currency for American money. I had fifteen rubles and fifty-six kopecks. I gave that to the man, who in return gave me two crisp bills that said “Five Dollars,” and two coins that said “Nickel.” I exited and went to get my bags.

I walked around the courtyard, looking for Zeide. Eventually, policemen began to usher those still waiting, back inside for the night. “Please, just let me wait a little longer,” I asked.

“Five minutes, son.”

I waited, staring into the darkness. I saw a large shadow. I screamed and ran… into my Zeide. “Oof! Not so hard, Shmuli!”

“Zeide! You’re here!”

“Of course! Come back with me to my house. There’s a shul on the same street, and lots of kids your age. You’ll love it.”

And he was right. I enjoy everything about America. I am now in school with other kids with whom I have made friends. I’m still a frum Jew in all aspects. I highly suggest for you to come to America, Moshe. Convince your parents, because in this world, America is the only hope for life, happiness, peace and prosperity.

I hope to see you soon,

                                                                                                      Shmuel Kanievsky