I have always been impressed by how English schools, primary and secondary alike put so much effort into finding ways to help the community. Whether it is fundraising, walking or running a marathon, going to an old people’s home, or helping those in need, there is always a way.
When I got to JFS, it was clear that this school was the same, if not better, when it came to getting involved in a charity.
There is so much poverty in the world and all impoverished people can hope for is a roof over their heads and some food on their plates. Every time JFS does something to help, we are giving desperate people hope for the future. When you know that you have made someone happy, an individual who is constantly sad and disappointed, this is one of the greatest gifts. The most amazing thing about it, is that this mitzvah is easy to do because people in need stay so humble and kind-hearted, that even the smallest gift can make them happy. This brings me to the following story:
“My parents were arriving home from a charity dinner when they saw a woman, hiding from the cold, between the main doors and the entrance to the building. When we asked why she was here, she replied “I hope you don’t mind, I must have gotten confused about the time and I arrived too late to get into the shelter.” After hearing this, my parents could not think for one minute that this was a coincidence. They had just been to a dinner where they had heard so many different stories about poor people, and here they were, finding themselves in front of a woman in the exact same situation. My parents went upstairs and my mother decided to give her tea and biscuits, as well as a blanket. My father went down to give her these things and also gave her some money. The lady continuously thanked my parents even though what they gave her was very small compared to everything she must have lost. The next morning, although my parents had told her to keep what they had given her; they found that she had left the cup and folded the blanket.”
When I heard this story, I realised that if little gifts like those could make a poor woman happier, then what could a big gift do? It could change a person’s life. This is exactly what JFS does. But being such a big school, means JFS does not change one person’s life, it changes many.
Being Jewish, giving tzedakah is one of the mitzvot we have to do. Yet, once you get to JFS, you realise that whatever the school does to help, is not done because it’s an obligation. It’s done out of kindness and out of hope that they are able to inspire students to give and take part. They do this in a fun way that makes students want to do the mitzvah. That in itself is a good deed. To take the time to do the mitzvah yourself is already amazing, but to be able to encourage and convince other people to the mitzvah, that is truly inspiring.