Lady J has an Israeli pen-pal through a wonderful program called The Same Moon, set up by our former religious school. She has spent the year writing back and forth with her pen pal in preassigned topics. We spend time discussing each topic and what she wants to say before and she dictates the letter as I type. Last month’s topic was “good deeds.” Below is the letter she composed. There are no words for the simultaneous pride and heartache I feel:
“It was so nice to talk to you last week on Skype! What time was it in Israel when we talked? My mom said it was close to dinner time. It was still morning where I was. My little sister always gets excited when tomorrow becomes today. I guess in Israel my today is your yesterday, at least for part of the day. Is that confusing? It confuses me too. My mom calls me a philosopher. I don’t know what that means.
When is your birthday? My birthday is in the summer. I think I want to have a sleepover party for my birthday. But this year, instead of getting gifts from my friends, I want to collect sleeping bag-coats for homeless people. They’re called “The EMPWR Coat” and it’s a coat that turns into a sleeping bag for night time and then a bag on days when you don’t need a warm coat. It looks really cool and can help save lives. I learned about it after I told my idea to collect sleeping bags for homeless people to my mom. She showed me the website http://www.empowermentplan.org and I knew I had to try to give as many coats as I could. My mom says that’s a Mitzvah.
I try to help homeless people out whenever I can. One time, I saw a homeless man and asked my parents if we could give him some food. He looked so lonely and hungry. I bought him a blueberry muffin, a banana, and some water. I wish I could do more.
Sometimes I run with my mom, too. When she runs, she uses an app on her phone that’s called Charity Miles. We choose a charity to run for and for each mile we run, some money gets donated. We usually run for Back on My Feet, because they help the homeless too.
A few years ago, our house caught fire. I don’t remember that much but I know it was really scary. Sometimes I remember the house but only bits and pieces. After the fire, we had to live with my mom’s parents for a little while and then my dad’s parents too. We finally bought a new house this year, but we were really lucky we had our family to help us before that. I guess I just want to help the people who don’t have family to take care of them, the people who don’t have homes.
Another thing I do with my family is donating things we don’t use anymore. We go through our toys, clothes, and books every few months and decide what needs to be recycled, handed down, or donated to those in need. I’m glad I can help.
Other ways I try to do Mitzvot are just by being a good leader and doing the right thing. In school we learn about the 7 habits and I try to follow them. I’ve won a few “Leader In Me” awards. In Hebrew School, it’s called Mench of the Month. I won a few of them too. I just try to follow the rules, try my best, and treat other people nicely. It seems to be working so I guess I’ll stick to this plan.
I can’t wait to get your next letter! Maybe we can FaceTime with each other sometime. That would be cool.”