Category Archives: Journal

Last Mitzvah Trip

This is one of your last school sponsored mitzvah projects. What is the one project we have not done that you would like to do? Since I won’t be scheduling mitzvah projects what project will you take on for yourself?

Next week will be one of our last mitzvah projects. One project that we have not done yet is a beach clean up. I think it would be not only beneficial for the animals in the ocean that could be killed from pollution, but also for the environment.

For my last mitzvah trip I would like to go to the cemetery to clean gravestones. This has been the most powerful mitzvah trip for me throughout all three years doing mitzvah trips so I would like to be able to go one last time together. I have yet to find my family in the cemetery, which I have just recently been told has been buried there, so I would really like to go and clean their gravestones.

Never Forget the 6 Million

Last Thursday was Yom Hashoah, or a Holocaust Remembrance day. The Holocaust was when 6,000,000 Jewish people were murdered by the Nazi’s because of the Jewish belief. The awful part was that it wasn’t even the Jewish belief that the Nazi’s didn’t like, it was the fact that the people were Jewish. So many people died as a result of this. We should continue to remember the acts and stories from the Holocaust so it never happens again. It is important to tell the stories of both survivors and those who unfortunately did not survive so people are informed about what really happened.


In order to make sure we, and generations following us, don’t forget these stories is by teaching them the background and passing along the stories. Once they know why this all happened and what exactly happened, they will understand that it was pure evil and was not deserved. 6,000,000 people did not deserve to die because the Nazi’s wanted to see them dead. That’s not how the world works, or should ever work. This is why we must remember.

Mount Carmel, Model Sedar, Mitzvahs, Oh My!

On Friday we visited Mount Carmel, a home for the elderly, and we did a model sedar for them. Many of the people there do not speak English, causing a language barrier. It is important to do this for them year after year, regardless of the language barrier, because it  fulfills the mitzvah of Hiddur P’nai Zaken. This means we are respecting the elderly.

The other reason we do this is because some of the residents at Mount Carmel may have forgotten how to conduct a sedar over the years. This was important because we helped them be able to fulfill mitzvahs on, or close to, the holiday.

Ha Lachma Anya

As a part of the Passover sedar, we get to the point where there is a paragraph called the הא לחמא עניא. This is about how you should welcome anybody who needs or wants to have a Passover sedar with you.  This is very important because it shows that you are supposed to allow anybody who is hungry to celebrate with you. Even in the times of the earliest Passover sedars there were less-fortunate people who needed help to have a sedar and have food. This reminds me of when we have our mitzvah trips on Fridays and help the hungry. Being a part of the Martin J. Gottlieb Day School and doing weekly mitzvah trips helps me help others by delivering food to the homeless, donating the needy, and helping animals in our community. This Jewish value of giving is very important to me because it makes you feel good knowing you did something to help somebody. The biggest impact it has made on me is that I am now more grateful for what I have.


Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness

In the Declaration of Independence, it states, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

This is a strong statement that certainly speaks for all of the people in the United States of America. This explains the most important rights of a human being, all of which I definitely agree with. It is super important, not only as an American but as a Jewish female, to hear these things.

Throughout history, Jews have been looked down on for crazy, made-up, reasons that make no sense. The part of this statement that talks about “Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness” proves that the United States supports these three main rights for each and every human, including Jews and other religions and races. Knowing that our past leaders wrote this and that they truly believed in everything they wrote, leads me to believe that the future for Jews will be a lot brighter than our dark, unfortunate past.

This sentence does not only make me think about being a Jew, but also a female. Females are constantly looked down upon for no reason whatsoever. Without knowing a person, it is not common for one to think, “oh, she probably can’t do this,” or, “she probably can’t do that,” simply because “she” is a girl. This stereotype that “women aren’t as good as men” began decades ago. The clause, “all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights,” leads me to believe that anybody can do anything if they set their mind to it, regardless of gender.


In conclusion, I strongly agree with this sentence and believe that it represents the United States of America in a great way.

Hiddur Mitzvah

JacksonvilleJewishCenterBrandihillcom-389Last week’s parsha was parsha Teruma. This is when we were given the mitzvah of Hiddur Mitzvah. The commandment tells us to beautify a mitzvah.
Basically, it means to not just do the bare minimum when following a mitzvah, but to enhance it by going above and beyond.
One example of how I have used this mitzvah in my own life is at my Bat Mitzvah. The way we “beautified” the mitzvah was by having flowers on the bimah and getting a pretty tallis. Another example is during Sukkot. We make decorations for Sukkahs and make them look nicer. brandihillcomJacksonvilleJewishCenterBrandihillcom-175

While this mitzvah is probably not as important as some of the others, it is nice to do. Following a commandment from the Torah should be something special that you cherish in a beautiful way.



T’zar Balei Chaim

There is a Mitzvah, or commandment from the Torah, that explains that you have to treat animals in an ethical way. This Mitzvah is called T’zar Balei Chaim. In my opinion, following this commandment is very important. imagesBased on what I’ve learned in the past from units on this Mitzvah, though G-d gave us dominance over animals, we still have to treat them in a humane way. We need to not be careless about the animal lives taken to give us food, clothes, and warmth. Therefore, we need to be thankful for what they do for us.


The way I follow this commandment is by being aware. When there is a chance to buy a product that is not tested on animals I will choose that one over the other. Also, I don’t eat veal because of how the poor animals are treated in order for the meat to be tender. In addition, I know not to buy anything with ivory in it due to all of the elephant deaths that occur soley for their tusks. I also am cautious about whether or not an article of clothing has faux fur or not. After learning about how many animals need to die for a single fur coat, I have realized how awful we, as humans, are to animals.


With all of this said, I think all schools should take initiative and teach their students to be aware of these things. I wouldn’t know any of this if I wasn’t taught about it during school. Although it is a very sad subject I am glad I know this so I can help to spread awareness


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I have a dream…

I have a dream that there will be world peace. People will stop fighting over land, belief, race, and all of the other world issues. People will have a balance between happy and sad; right and wrong; and good and evil. They won’t be judgmental in a way that makes people hide their true personalities or thoughts. The government will be stable and countries will have good leaders that can all work together for a common goal. There will be no physical or mental harm done relating to race or religion. Everyone will be accepted for who they are and what they offer. People will help others in need, care for one-another, and be selfless. Life is short, and it will only get shorter if we keep living the way we are living. We need to wake up from this dream and make things happen.

“There are three crowns: the crown of Torah, the crown of priesthood, and the crown of royalty. However, the crown of a good name is greater than all of them.” -Pirkei Avot

It is stated in many places that having a good name is a good thing, for example, Proverbs, Pirkei Avot, and Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, but what does or should it mean to you? For me, I am named after one amazing person who has done many amazing things.

My first name in English, Jamie, and my Hebrew name, יוספה, are both after my great grandfather, Joseph, or יוסף.  He was born in 1912 in Poland and moved to Palestine, which later became Israel. He knew many languages, so while he was there he would forge passports for people to get out of Europe during the war. He also helped defend the country. He was very involved in Zionism. In fact, he went all the way from Austrailia, where he was living at the time, to Israel for the funeral of Ze’ev Jabotinsky, an involved leader in Zionism. He also went to school with Yitzhak Shamir, one of Israel’s prime ministers, while he was living in Poland. They were part of Betar together.

Being named after my great grandfather is so important to me because I can carry along his amazing deeds. I hope to act as a Jewish leader in my life, just like he did. Having this name will bring up a reason for some remember, and others imagine, how he impacted so many lives.