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


Image Credit: http://downloadclipart.org/animals-215

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.



“The Shamash lights all the other candles – BE a Shamash!”

“The Shamash lights all the other candles – BE a Shamash!”


This quote is implying to be a leader. When a Shamash lights a candle it gives the candle fire, or what they need, to burn, or to do something. The way a person could be like a Shamash is to give a group of people what they need to do something, or being a leader. As the Vice President of Knesset, I work as a leader alongside the President. Between the two of us, we give the members of Knesset what they need to accomplish certain things. We make sure they know what to do, and they can do it. This is one of many examples of acting like a Shamash.


Another interpretation of this same quote is to give. The Shamash gives the light to the other candles. Without the Shamash the other candles could not have been given the flame. If a person were to act like a Shamash in this meaning, they could give to people and be selfless.


As a part of our Jewish day school, we have Jewish study classes to educate us on the background, language, and belief of our religion. One of these classes is Tanach class. The Tanach is a book that includes the Torah, Nevi’im, and the Ketuvim. We study this book as a way to develop our belief and learn our history/morals that go along with it.

Last week, somebody had asked what the point of learning Tanach is, so to answer this broad, yet good, question, our Tanach teacher organized a panel of teachers and rabbis. We received some really good answers which made me think about my own belief and my own Jewish education.

If I were in charge of making a program for Jewish Studies classes, I would focus on three main things: language, laws in current times, and belief. The first category would be learning how to speak, write, and read in Hebrew. The second one would be learning the laws of the Torah and how to use them in modern times and in daily life. The third one would be learning stories of the bible, finding their morals, and talking about how we can relate this to us/our thoughts.

I, personally, really like discussion-based classes because it really keeps me interested, so that is what I based this on. I feel that having this interactiveness would benefit our particular age group to keep us all more interested and focused.

Happy Thanksgiving!

On Friday we went to Publix and bought turkeys and other food for the less fortunate for Thanksgiving. We sorted all of the food that was donated and bought and we will deliver them to families tomorrow so they have them for Thanksgiving. I am very excited for tomorrow to deliver the food and to see their faces when they recieve it.

There is a verse that Hillel said that states that you should not separate yourself from your community. This mitzvah relates to the verse because we are giving food so these less fortunate families can participate in Thanksgiving like everyone else. They can be thankful for the food that they have and for their lives. I think it is important to do this, not only because it’s a mitzvah, but also so everyone can participate in Thanksgiving.


For this week’s mitzvah trip, our middle school took a trip to the cemetery and we cleaned gravestones for people, in and outside of our community, who have passed away. Fulfilling the mitzvah of Kavod haMeit, we said a prayer at two graves for people who were big parts of our community. One of the graves belongs to Scott Zimmerman, and another to Mr. and Mrs. Galinsky. It was a very meaningful experience and a quite touching one too.

I felt that this experience was very meaningful because we had a chance to clean gravestones for people who may not have other family living to do it for them. As mentioned before, we went to the Galinskys’ graves and we said a prayer for them. This particular family doesn’t have anybody alive that is related to them left to say a prayer, or even remember them. This is why it is a bigger mitzvah, because we did this without expecting a “Thank you”.

One part of this project that was especially meaningful to me was when we said El Malei at Scott Zimmerman’s grave. Scott was a huge part of our Jewish community who’s unveiling happens to be next week. It was very comforting to hear this prayer while thinking about him and how amazing of a person he was.

All in all, this experience was amazing and super meaningful so I hope to do something like this again in years to come.

Shmini Atzeret

This Tuesday is a Jewish holiday called Shmini Atzeret. We add a yizkor service, which is a memorial service. This is so we can remember people who have passed away and think about others even if we don’t know them. This allows people to think about their loved ones who have passed away.

This Shimini Atzeret I will be remembering my two great uncles, Yehoshua and Lipman. Even though I didn’t know them I believe that they should be remembered. They both passed away during the holocaust. Thankfully, we did have family members that survived including their mom, Riwa, and dad, Chaim. I am very grateful for the family that I have and for the family that I once had, even when I wasn’t alive.

Sukkot Sameach!

This Monday is a holiday called Sukkot. This is when we shake the lulav and etrog and sit and eat in the sukkah. It is a commandment to be happy on Sukkot. So, why should we be happy even if we aren’t? The truth is, I have no idea, but I do have a guess. My guess is that because we just spent the past two weeks repenting for our sins, now we should be happy to enjoy this holiday. Have a happy Sukkot!