Growing up, I have always appreciated the Jewish concept of chesed, or loving kindness. It is one of the principle ideas behind giving back and giving to others. Over the years, I have participated in a variety of chesed projects—volunteering at a local food pantry, visiting residents at a local nursing home or volunteering at Friendship Circle. It has been relatively easy to find ways to give back through my Jewish community here in New Jersey. However, we must look beyond the borders of our local Jewish community to find ways to help. With the help of NCSY and The Frisch School, where I am a junior, I was able to participate in a chesed mission to Charleston, South Carolina. The main focus of this trip was to help out those who are less fortunate and learn about the Jewish history of Charleston. The main activity on the trip was to support Habitat for Humanity. With Habitat for Humanity we were able to help build houses for those who cannot afford a home. Even though we weren’t building the main structure of the house, it was really meaningful to know that the small things would provide a home for a needy family in the future. Coming from my comfortable life in New Jersey, I never imagined I would have the opportunity to actually build a house for someone. Participating in a small way left a big impact on me. Lastly, it was very interesting to learn about the Jewish history of Charleston and experience a Shabbat in the Jewish community. To learn about the history, we toured one of the oldest Jewish cemeteries and synagogues. I learned that the Jews came to Charleston in the late 1600s mainly from Spain, and many of the Jews there fought in the American wars. Finally, spending Shabbat in Charleston was really special as their community is small, yet they have so many activities to grow the community and get everyone involved. I was inspired to help in this community and hopefully I was able to demonstrate not just an act of chesed, but set a true example.
Junior at The Frisch School