The following essay on community service was written by Mia Shonbrun Siege, a middle schooler, enrolled in City Congregation’s Bar/Bat Mitzvah program. Students spend a year and a half researching their heritage, values and beliefs, and write on a Jewish subject of their choice, their major project; they also perform 13 hours of community service, and write about it. An example of this component can be seen below. The process improves both the student’s writing and critical thinking skills, as well as their self confidence and overall maturity.
For my community service I’ve done activities that are very different from each other. One activity I did was to walk for a cure for Crohn’s Disease and Ulcerative Colitis. This walk was important because my mom was recently diagnosed with ulcerative colitis. It was very painful for her, which made me really want to do this walk.
My family and I got to the park and it was pouring rain and cold. My parents said we didn’t have to finish the whole walk. But each time they said we could stop I really wanted to do more and help as much as I could so I said we should walk further.
The next thing we did was help clean up the streets of Park Slope. My family and I walked around our neighborhood and picked up all the trash we could find. We walked for many blocks and it took us hours to get them all clean. It felt good to know that we were making the area cleaner and making a difference.
For community service I also volunteered to work with the teacher for the high holidays. I had to help take care of the kids. We played games that were related to the jewish holiday and did a service for them that they would understand. It was very interesting watching the kids learn about their religion and I enjoyed it a lot.
The biggest thing I did as community service was to campaign for Hillary Clinton. My family and I got up early and met up with a huge group of people. We all took a bus to Coatesville, Pennsylvania. Once we got there, my mom and I walked around and knocked on the doors of the residents of Coatesville. We asked people who they were voting for and if they knew where to go to vote. If they didn’t know where to vote we would tell them where to go and tell them the hours you could vote. What was surprising is almost every person we talked to was voting for Hillary. The most memorable person my mom and I talked to was a young African American woman. She didn’t know who she was going to vote for yet and my mom explained to her that especially as a black woman Hillary is the right choice. And she talked about how Donald Trump didn’t believe that climate change was real and it really felt like we were making a difference. Even though we couldn’t swing Pennsylvania and it ended up going red, it felt good to talk to people and get them to go out and vote.
I have decided to donate a portion of my bat mitzvah money to Planned Parenthood, a healthcare organization that provides women (and men) access to affordable reproductive healthcare. It just celebrated it’s 100 anniversary which is kind of amazing that any organization has been around that long. My mother has been donating Planned Parenthood for at least 25 years so I thought I would continue the family tradition. It’s more important now than ever to donate to this amazing organization because it is a great risk of losing its federal funding. Knowing this, everyone should donate.