Mitzvahs and More

♥ May 16th, 2016 , Tags : , No Comment

Every Friday at school, for the last three years of my life, I have gone on mitzvah projects around the city, helping those in need. We go on all sorts of different projects ranging from cat shelters to food pantries. All of the projects are very meaningful. They teach us about how different some people live. The projects help us appreciate what we have and take for granted.

 

In the next few weeks, I will be going on my last mitzvah projects at school. After graduation, I will be going to a different school that does not do stuff like that. Although I will still do some stuff on my own, it will not be the same. We have done many different types of mitzvah projects over the years, but one that I haven’t done yet is beach cleanup. Litter is bad for the environment and we would be helping the ecosystem by picking it up. When I’m not in the school anymore, I will probably donate to food pantries like JFCS or donate clothes.

Remembering the Survivors

♥ May 10th, 2016 , Tags : , No Comment

This week was Yom HaShoah, or Holocaust Memorial Day. Two generations ago, acts of unspeakable horror were committed against a people just because they existed. It started by taking away their rights as a citizen, then the Jews themselves were taken away. They were treated like animals and forced to live in inhumane conditions. Six million Jews were killed. Those who survived the concentration camps had memories that haunted them forever. The Holocaust wiped out a huge percentage of Jews in the world.

 

We have Yom HaShoah to remember those that suffered through this and those that were murdered. There are very few living Holocaust survivors left in the world. Those that live are very old and won’t be around much longer. We are the last generation to know Holocaust survivors and hear their stories in person. Reading it or hearing about it from someone else isn’t the same. Anti-Semitism is on the rise all around the world. People need to remember the Holocaust so that history does not repeat itself. To make sure these lessons learned stay with us, we should make sure that the survivors’ stories aren’t forgotten and we should continue to have Holocaust Memorial Day.

Passover at Mt. Carmel

♥ April 19th, 2016 , Tags : , No Comment

Every year, the middle school goes to Mt. Carmel Gardens around the time of Passover. Along with the Jewish residents there, we have a model seder. Everyone that lives there is elderly and couldn’t have a seder on their own. They might have it at the building, but they enjoy it more with younger kids there. They don’t know all the prayers, so we do it for them and they can sing along if they want to. Mt. Carmel is home to mainly immigrants from Europe, a lot of whom don’t speak any English. There are some that speak a little English and a select few that know it fully.

 

It is hard for us to communicate with the residents due to the language barrier, but we do our best. Going there is an important mitzvah project for us because even though a lot of them didn’t understand us, we helped make it possible for them to have a Passover seder. It is the mitzvah of visiting the elderly. It would be hard for them to have one by themselves because they wouldn’t know the words. We go back there year after year to ensure that the Jews have a way of celebrating the holiday.

NYC

♥ April 5th, 2016 , , No Comment

IMG_2017

Mitzvahs of Purim

♥ March 14th, 2016 , Tags : , , No Comment

There are several mitzvot (commandments) for Purim, one of the most joyous Jewish holidays. Two of the mitzvot are Matanot La Evyonim and Mishloach Manot. Matanot La Levyonim translates to giving to the needy. It is one of the most important mitzvahs in Judaism. We hear about it many times and it is a fundamental in Jewish life. Misloach Manot is giving baskets full of goodies to others on Purim. People either give them as a gift or exchange bags with someone else. They are different because Mutant La Evyonim is giving to people who need, while Misloach Manot is giving to people just to be nice.

 

We should do both of these mitzvot because Matanot La Evyonim is helping someone who really needs it. They have had bad luck in life and need help. There are very few people in the world who will help them. Misloach Manot is just to be nice to someone. Although it may be trivial, it could brighten someone’s day and make them happier. It is small things like that which make a difference. Giving one person that gift could inspire them to do something nice to someone else and so on.

Doing Good Deeds

♥ March 8th, 2016 , , No Comment

In school, we are learning about the phrase, “Let all who are hungry come and eat. Let all who are in need come and make Pesach,” in honor of the upcoming holiday, Passover. It is about feeding the hungry and helping out in the community. At school, we observe this by doing community service [mitzvah] projects every Friday afternoon. It is an important part of our curriculum because we learn about what happens in real life, not just stuff in the textbook. It helps improve my understanding of what is going on and how much our neighbors are suffering. It has changed my view on the world asso that I realize its not just the perfect bubble that we live in. We experience this through things like delivering food to families who don’t have and visiting the elderly. It has changed my perspective on the world to be more realistic and helps me appreciate what I have.

The Rights of Mankind

♥ February 23rd, 2016 , Tags : , , No Comment

In the June of 1776, Thomas Jefferson wrote the Declaration of Independence. It is one of the most important documents in our country. In the Declaration of Independence, it is written, “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.” It is the first time in the Declaration of Independence that each individual person is talked about; not just the country as a whole. It tells us more specifically what rights we automatically should have by being alive.

 

The sentence can be interpreted in several ways. Different people find different meanings for it, and will often dispute over what it is supposed to ‘actually’ mean. As a human being and woman, this means to me that everyone starts off the same. There is little difference between one baby and another. As we grow older and progress, physically and mentally, things change. However, we still are all allowed to have at least the same basic rights. By being alive, it is just automatic that we should get these rights. As a Jew, this means to me that Jews shouldn’t be victimized and singled out just for believing in a different religion. In our entire history, we have been persecuted and exiled, over and over again, but survived. I would have thought that in modern days, people would be smart enough to realize that the world is prejudiced against Jews for ridiculous reasons. As an American, this just gives me a basis for all the rights that we have in this country.

 

Although we may automatically have this right, I think that there are certain exceptions. For example, if someone kills ten people, then they would have their liberty taken away because they would go to jail. In instances when someone did something wrong, it is okay for them to be denied of their rights because they deserved it. I also think that we have certain responsibilities to uphold. If someone finds happiness in doing mean things to others, then they should find something else to be happy about and stop doing that. In our country, people with different ethnicities are sometimes treated differently than others. This is unfair and should not happen. Everyone is created equal. Just because they were created with a different skin color than others does not mean that they are lesser. We all need to remember that everyone is created equal and we are given these rights for a reason.

The Mitzvah of Doing More

♥ February 15th, 2016 , Tags : , No Comment

One of the mitzvahs that we are commanded to do by God is Hiddur Mitzvah. Hiddur Mitzvah is about doing more than what is just required. We should go above and beyond what we need to do to make what we are doing more special. If we are told to complete a task, rather than just do the minimum, do the task well and put everything into it. This mitzvah is good because it can lead to big successes in life by doing things well. It is a very good habit to have.

 

In my own life, I observe Hiddur Mitzvah quite often without even realizing. In most things I do, I do more than what is just required. I like to do things well. One example of this is my Bat Mitzvah. Rather than just do the usual one or two Torah readings, I decided to learn all seven. I also led all of the services, including the Friday night one, while most people only do the Torah service. Doing all the services also meant that I would have a lot more than usual because it was Chanukah. A lot of extra things were added to the services because of the holiday.

 

For my Bat Mitzvah, I decided to do everything for several reasons. One of the reasons was because I didn’t want to disappoint anyone. People were traveling from all around the world to come to my Bat Mitzvah, so I would hate for it to have been a waste of their time. They could go to a mediocre Bat Mitzvah anywhere. I also did it for myself. I wouldn’t have felt accomplished if I hadn’t used my full potential. I wouldn’t have felt happy for myself if I did less than the maximum. It made the occasion special because it made it more of a celebration. People knew that I worked hard, so it was like I deserved to be congratulated and then have fun at the party.

The Death of a Hero

♥ February 7th, 2016 , Tags : , , No Comment

Recently, a teenage Israeli soldier, Hadar Cohen, was shot and killed by terrorists. She was shot in the head by one of them, but managed to shoot back before losing consciousness and passing away. By doing this, she stopped what could have been a big terrorist attack. Hundreds of people went to her funeral on Thursday because she saved lives by staying calm and fighting back, even when she was hurt. If I had to write a letter to her parents with condolence, I would say the following…

 

 

Dear parents of Hadar Cohen,

You must be devastated. I’m not sure exactly what you are thinking, but there must be many things running through your minds. You might be thinking something along the lines of, ‘why her?’. Why is it that your daughter had to be on patrol in the very area with the terrorists? It might be considered bad luck, but it also might have been her destiny. On one hand, your beloved daughter’s life was ended too soon, but she didn’t die for nothing. She saved countless lives through her bravery. Your daughter is a hero. Even when hurt, she did her duty and saved the lives of nearby people. 

 

I have never had a close family member die, but I can imagine that it must be awful. Have consolation in the fact that she died a hero, and she will be remembered. Her last moments on this earth were spent in the country that she loved and considered her home. She was doing something important. She may have passed away, but the people who would have died if it weren’t for her, will never forget her. Even as trivial memories fade away, they will remember their close experience with death and the nineteen year old girl who saved their lives. 

 

Hadar Cohen’s memory will forever be one of a hero. Her last moments were doing things that most people don’t have the strength or bravery to do. She had to go through and make decisions that no nineteen year old should ever have to make. In Israel, however, those decisions are necessary for our people to survive. She did the right thing and her sacrifice saved lives. I wish you all the best. I hope that perhaps your grief will be a little bit less because you know that your daughter was a hero. 

Marching in Selma

♥ January 18th, 2016 , Tags : , , No Comment

Today is Martin Luther King Day. Martin Luther King Jr. was an African American who saw how unfairly people with dark skin were being treated. He stood up for them, and gave one of the most famous speeches of all time: “I have a dream.” In 1968, a national holiday was created in his honor. He is the reason that all African American people are treated as fairly as everybody else. He was assassinated on April 4, 1968 in Memphis, Tennessee.

 

On March 25, 1965, a five day march occurred from Selma, Alabama to Montgomery with the purpose of ending segregation. Many people marched together for the fifty-four miles.

“When I marched in Selma, I felt my legs were praying,” said Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel.

I think this quote means that when he was marching, the marching to him felt like praying. It was an alternate way of asking for things to be done. Rabbi Heschel probably participated in the march because he is Jewish. Jews have been treated unfairly also, so he knew that he had to stand up for what is right. This was important to him because he knew that someone had to do something about it.

 

If I lived during that time, I would probably march in Selma. If I didn’t march, I would feel so guilty and probably be wishing that I had because it is the right thing to do. I would regret not marching. People should not be treated unfairly because of the color of their skin. Everyone should be treated equally.