Essay 2013 - d

“Wrong education and upbringing produces ugly personalities, whereas a fine upbringing and good education will bring forth superior sense and feeling, as well as nobility and purity of mind” (Suzuki, 1983). Suzuki illustrates the idea that who you are is a product of your upbringing. For being Jewish to have an affect on being a good person is dependent on the understanding of Jewish values in particular, Tikkun Olam. Therefore to examine how my Jewishness contributes to my ability to have a positive effect upon the world it is imperative to examine my upbringing as a Jewish child. There are many concepts in Judaism that encompass the concept of helping others and having a positive effect upon the world. Since a young age I have been told about the 613 Mitzvot and how important it is to be a good person and partake in these Mitzvot. A Mitzvah is considered any commandment, law or decree in the Torah. The Talmud discusses the specifics of these 613 Mitzvoth, but Jews consider any good deed to be the fulfillment of a Mitzvah (Mitzvah, 2013). As simple as shaking the lulav on Sukkot to entertaining seniors in a nursing home and volunteering at the local food bank – it’s a Mitzvah and it is important. A Mitzvah is a simple thing to do each day to make yourself a better person while helping others and having a positive effect on those surrounding Tzedakah is defined today as charity but it is derived from the word Tzedek that actually means justice (Jaffe, 2008). Tzedakah is considered a religious obligation; in contrast to philanthropy which is voluntary (Margolis, 2008). Tzedakah exemplifies the importance of constantly thinking of others and when others are in need, it is everyone’s responsibility to help. Every year my Jewish day school handed out the familiar royal blue Jewish National Fund Tzedakah boxes to be taken home and filled with change so they can be returned to help others. At a young age, these small blue boxes reinforced the idea that something as small as a few coins can help others. God commanded Abraham “la’asot tzedakah u-mishpat” meaning to do righteousness and justice (Soloveitchik, 2008). This commandment explains one of the core aspects of Judaism—righteousness and justice, thereby identifying with Judaism and practicing its ways inadvertently leads Jewish day school was the integral factor in reinforcing strong values in me. A child’s Jewish education has a strong effect on their long term Jewish identity. Jewish children who attend Jewish day school are more likely to have a stronger Jewish identity as an adult (Cohen & Veinstein, 2011). Jewish education helped prepare me with a firm grasp on what defines Judaism and being a Jew, from biblical teachings, Jewish history and the ideals and values that encompass being a Jewish adult and overall a good person. Jewish day school also afforded me great experiences and opportunities. But it impressed upon me the idea that with every experience for oneself, we must continue to think of others. Each opportunity and experience had an aspect of community service, which emphasized the strong values of the Jewish people. The grade eight trip to Washington D.C. for Holocaust and human injustice education required community service to attend the trip. The grade nine Israel trip included volunteering at the food bank and a home for mentally handicapped children. The combination of educational, once-in-a-lifetime trips and community service teaches the valuable lesson that it is not enough to just open our wallets but rather simply lending our time to others has a strong impact on the Rabbi Alan Silverstein of the congregation of Agudath Israel discusses the three types of Jews: the head, heart and hand (2000). The head is the intellectual, the heart is more spiritual and the hand is a volunteering Jew. Most bar and bat Mitzvah congregants believe they belong to the group of “hand” Jews and therefore identify most with acts of Tikkun Olam. It is believed that this age is the most important to learn the importance of volunteering. In the book, Judaism and Justice, it is reported that half of the Jews polled in 1998 regarding the top quality related to their Jewish identity believed social equality efforts to be the most important (Schwarz, 2006). This commitment to Tzedek helps tie people and their Jewish identity together while lending a helping hand to others. Agudath Israel hopes that learning the important ideals of volunteerism at this crucial age will help ensure that these ideals are carried with these young Jews throughout their Bar and Bat Mitzvahs and into their adult lives. A Bar and Bat Mitzvah is the right of passage for Jewish youth. This a defining moment in their life when they prepare with classes, learning the Torah and the customs and traditions of the Jewish people. This age is a critical period of learning, where this demographic relates most to the “hand” type of Jew, provides support for how being a strong Jew is positively correlated with having a The extent of my Jewishness can largely be attributed to the celebrations of Jewish holidays and learning about Judaism and its history. Biblical teachings and learning about the holidays sets prime examples of how Jews should help those in need. The bible commanded Israelites to reserve some of their harvest, particularly no less than one-sixth of their field, for the needy. Along with the reservation of crop, there were also laws for leaving forgetten or dropped crop for the poor to take (Eisenberg, 2011). These tithing laws teach the important concept of sharing what is ours with those who need. The Jewish holidays are an important time of learning and passing on customs and traditions. On Passover friends and families gather to celebrate the exodus from Egypt and entrance into to freedom by reading the Haggadah and partaking in age-old traditions. At the beginning of the Seder the prayer Ha lachma anya is recited in which we invite all those in need of a meal into our homes to join our Seder (Etshalom, 1998). The modern celebration of Purim is a joyous one with costumes and gragers, but along with this joy Purim encourages the fulfillment of a Mitzvah by giving to others through sending Mishloach Manot, food baskets to friends and family. The Trumat Hadeshen explains the purpose of giving Mishloach Manot is to allow anyone—regardless of wealth—to be able to celebrate Purim with the festival meal (Spivak, 2005). It is also customary to satisfy the Mitzvah of giving gifts to the needy, Mataonot La’Evyonim, the fulfillment of this Mitzvah is considered to be the most important one of them all (OU staff, n.d.). Jewish holidays and texts contain altruistic components emphasizing the necessity to help others in need and help others partake in the beloved holidays. A strong Jewish identity is strengthened by the celebration of holidays and learning of texts, which encourage and promote community contributions and thus having a positive effect. A young adults’ Jewish identity is continuously reinforced through his/her life through his/her affiliation with Jewish groups. It is especially solidified through the philanthropy of these groups. Post Bat-Mitzvah and Jewish day school, my connection to a Jewish life continued with my involvement in the B’nai Brith Youth Organization, BBYO. BBYO is one of the leading Jewish youth movements around the world. The movement is built off of cardinal principles encompassing community service, philanthropy, Jewish heritage and others (AZA & BBG, 2013). Joining my local chapter of BBYO allowed me to become involved and discover my Jewish identity in a way I hadn’t previously explored. Working together with other members allowed us as a young Jewish teenage group to give back to the community. BBYO encouraged us to find something we enjoyed and use that as a way to help others. Through Actively Concerned Teens, our regional chapter worked together to host local concerts and fashion shows to benefit charities. These events and programs continued to impress upon me the importance of philanthropy. Becoming a member of BBYO may have started as a social gathering but it led to me giving back to the greater community. Jewish associations have continued to follow me throughout the chapters of my life. As I entered University, Hillel embraced me with open arms. Hillel is a national organization present on university and college campuses with the intentions of reawakening Jewish student’s Judaism (Deutchman, 1999). Hillel’s goal is to help Jewish students find their lost Jewish identity. While in University and college, students are continuously learning and exploring the world around them and most of all wanting to help others. Hillel helps students find their Jewish identity by providing the tools and resources to allow students help others through Tzedakah and Tikkun Olam. At my University, Hillel allowed for a group of us young Jewish members to host an event to fundraise for the organization Save a Child’s Heart. Hillel gave us the resources and support to allow us to make the Mitzvah of raising close to ten-thousand dollars to donate to the organization. Hillel further molds students into strong world citizens with concrete ideals and a passion to help others through strengthening their Jewish identity. Jewish texts are woven with ideas and commandments of ways to help others. It is evident that an important part of Judaism is caring for others. Along with Mitzvot and Tzedakah, the Talmud teaches about Gemilut Hasadim. Gemilut Hasadim is a Mitzvah and it is considered to be of utmost importance and held in higher regard than Tzedakah because it involves the act of helping others without expecting reciprocation (Schieb, 2013). Gemilut Hasadim is also considered to be a more broad way of helping in contrast to charity, which is considered more monetary. Gemilut Hasadim can be given to anyone, regardless of social status due its non-monetary nature. Acts of Gemilut Hasadim may include caring for the sick and attending a funeral. Rabbis consider Gemilut Hasadim a fundamental aspect of Judaism (Eisenberg, 2010). These acts of kindness and good deeds are how Jews exhibit their faithfulness to God while concurrently having a positive effect Examining my upbringing provides a clear connection between the Jewish organizations, education and practices in my life with my desire to contribute to my community and others in need and thereby having a positive effect on the world. The core values of Judaism preach the importance and requirement to help others through its commandments of Mitzvot, Tzedakah and Gemilut Hassadim. As Rabbi Silverstein (2000) commented, many Jews, particularly those around their age of Bar/Bat Mitzvah, identify most with the “hand” level of Judaism. They feel the most connected with Judaism when helping others. For a person with a strong Jewish identity formed through a Jewish upbringing these commandments become an involuntary reflex—just part of daily life. A main component of a Jewish upbringing is the celebration of the holidays. Many of the holidays contain laws and customs of contribution; thereby through celebrating the holidays it is common to complete Mitzvot and acts of Tikkun Olam like those previously discussed during Purim and Passover. Jewish organizations throughout childhood, adolescence and adulthood reinforce the foundation of a Jewish identity and encourage the acts of Tikkun Olam. They are an important aspect of the lives of Jewish youth as they can be critical to re-inspiring their Judaism, and their positive contribution to their surroundings. The opportunities to help others and further human equality and justice has become a large and important way for Jews to connect to their Judaism (Schwarz, 2006), therefore it is essential that Judaism and Jewish organizations continue to fulfill this role for its people so they may contribute positivity to the world whilst fulfilling the commandments of a Jew. The culmination of these many Jewish aspects of my life have contributed to my ability to have a positive effect. Having a positive effect on the world is second nature to one with a strong Jewish identity. Aza & bbg. (2013). Retrieved from Cohen, S. M. & Veinstein, J. (2011). Jewish Identity: Who You Knew Affects How You Jew-The Impact of Jewish Networks in Childhood upon Adult Jewish Identity. In Miller, H., et al (Eds)., International Handbook of Jewish Education, pp. 203-218, Deutchman, J. (1999). Hillel incorporated. Tikkun, 14, 21-23+. Retrieved from bin/ezpauthn.cgi/docview/212283100?accountid=15115 Eisenberg, R. (2010). Jewish traditions: A jps guide. (p. 530-533). Philadelphia, PA: The Jewish Publication Society. Retrieved from Etshalom, Y. (1998). Haggadah shel pesach: an overview and explanation of three sections from the haggadah. Retrieved from Jaffe, M. (2008, Jun 27). Tzedakah: Not charity. Baltimore Jewish Times, 302, 14-14. Retrieved from bin/ezpauthn.cgi/docview/222814686?accountid=15115 Margolis, F. (2008). Alpha omega means tzedakah. Alpha Omegan, 101(1), 8-8. doi: Mitzvah. (2013). In Encyclopædia Britannica. Retrieved from Schieb, A. (2013). Gemilut hasadim . Retrieved from Schwarz, S. (2006). Judaism and justice:The jewish passion to repair the world. Spivak, M. (2005). On purim, lessons of unity and charity begin with a basket. Jewish News. Retrieved from bin/ezpauthn.cgi/docview/364836582?accountid=15115 Soloveitchik, J. (2008). Kedusha and tzedakah u-mishpat. In D. Shatz, J. Wolowelsky & R. Ziegler (Eds.), Abraham’s journey: Reflections on the life of the founding patriarch (p. 106). Retrieved from la'asot tzedakah mishpat&source=bl&ots=3kCLitSk4o&sig=d2BfJcqMsx- daFDmfdqCCXEQeMo&hl=en&sa=X&ei=_d5LUbyCMome2AWylYGYCg&ve Suzuki, S (1983). Nurtured by love: The classic approach to talent education. Alfred OU Staff. (n.d.). Purim and its Mitzvot. Retrieved from Werk, S. (2000, Sep 30). Hands-on! enriching the Bar/Bat mitzvah experience. Women's League Outlook, 71, 28-28. Retrieved from bin/ezpauthn.cgi/docview/218370630?accountid=15115


Health related advices for participants of the Trans Sahara Rally This document is simply a guideline to help you in health/medical preparations for the rally. The source of this information, i.e. advices, list of medicines, mandatory or recommended vaccinations, contents of your first aid box and anything you can use during your travel is not primarily from a book or two, rather decades of t

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