20 Cheshvan 5778
Dear AJA Community,
Any idea what an AJA 7th Grader has in common with Avraham?
Did I get your attention? Keep reading...
In Pirkei Avot, we learn that Gd tested Avraham with 10 trials, to gauge his loyalty. They were not easy trials - including leaving his homeland, famine, Sarah being taken by Pharaoh, battle with kings, estrangement from his son and the ultimate - the binding (sacrifice) of Yitzchak. He, of course, passed these tests with flying colors. But, it was not easy!
Thankfully, none of our students have dealt with battles and binding...however, one in particular was tested and, like Avraham, pushed and persisted and persevered. When Jemima Schoen carefully selected her Mitzvah project, little did she realize the challenge it would be to complete it. Jemima’s Great Uncle is a highly decorated 37 year Air Force Veteran who served multiple tours in Vietnam. Her connection to, and appreciation for our military, made it a natural choice for her to select a mitzvah project directed at our soldiers. For veterans in the local VA hospital, Jemima put together HERO packs, bags filled with various items that the soldiers could use. Her classmates and friends from AJA gathered in August to fill 50 bags to deliver to the hospital.
Assembling the bags was the easy part. After repeated calls and visits since August (her very own 10 trials!), Jemima was face to face with a huge obstacle. No one from the VA hospital was receptive to her mitzvah, and wouldn’t answer calls or multiple requests to deliver the bags. Jemima could have thrown in the proverbial towel, but, instead kept pushing and exhibiting her dedication to this project and to the mitzvah of a gift to the Veterans.
So, what happened next? If you watch CBS46 tonight at 11 pm, you’ll see the resolution to her story in the segment “Better Call Harry”. Jemima didn’t give up - and her mitzvah project was so well-received that she and her classmates assembled HERO packs again today. We are so proud of her, and all of our 7th Graders!
At AJA, we are not only focused on the academic success of our students, we also pride ourselves on helping to develop your mensches who walk these halls. You can see examples of middot and chesed in our students every day, and it warms my heart. This is one of the components of our school that I feel so passionate about - and Jemima’s story is just one example to illustrate this.
As we just completed Parashat Vayera (the end of Avraham’s trials), and Veteran’s Day is only days away - this seemed to be the perfect story to share. Kol Hakavod, Jemima!
And we hope to see all of you at our New Building Community Ribbon Cutting this Sunday at noon!
Rabbi Ari Leubitz