This year at Hebrew high school has focused on ethics and morals that we should live by. We have had group discussions on many different subjects that allowed me to gain a new perspective on many different issues and learn what Judaism says about them too. Ethics deals not only with how we treat others but also how we treat ourselves. Teenagers have many life-changing decisions to make; these include how to deal with peer pressure and avoiding irresponsible behavior and that could negatively impact our safety and our futures.
My code of ethics is also about seeking out important issues and causes, and trying to make a difference in the world and certainly in our country. This aspect of my personal code of ethics comes directly from the RAC trip. During this trip I was amazed to learn the process of getting your voice heard in the government. The trip showed us not only how to share our personal beliefs with our State Representatives through lobbying, but also to share the stance of the Reform Movement on different issues.
I learned a lot about the Reform Movement too. I really like that Reform Judaism doesn’t treat our religion like something that can’t change as the world changes. On the Reform Judaism web site it states that if we don’t change as we go forward then our religion is like an old heirloom instead of something that can be full of innovations and new ideas. We talked about this in our classes and we learned how modern Judaism needs to be out front with issues like rights for people regardless of their sexual orientation or religion and certainly to speak up for anyone who might be bullied at school or anywhere else.
I also learned a lot about Tikkun Olam, which is a mission to heal the world. I wrote a lot about this topic in my bat Mitzvah speech and I still feel very strong about it. I will always remember my project where I learned about the ladies in Uganda who make bracelets in order to earn money for their families. I raised a few hundred dollars for them. Many of my relatives still ask me about these women and if things have gotten better for them. When I get these questions, years after my bat Mitzvah, it makes me understand how important it is to bring people’s stories to the public because many people in our country want to help a good cause, they just need to be told about it in an interesting way. My code of ethics now includes looking at bad situations and thinking of ways to help the people involved.
There are many additional ways that one person can help heal the world. All of Judaism understands the term called tzedakah, but I like the way Reform Judaism interprets this the best because it means helping a person in need no matter what their background. I like that TRT went to help people who were affected by last year’s tornadoes. When one local man asked why Jews were there to help rebuild a Christian church, someone from the TRT group said “because we are Jewish and that’s what we do!” That was a really good answer and I want to join this summer’s trip to help people in need.
I spent a lot of time working on this assignment and thinking about my personal code of ethics. This year at Hebrew high has really made me think about how I define myself and what kind of person I want to be. After all my studying at TRT and doing assignments like this one, I really understand that when we say “that’s just what we do!” it’s not that simple, we do it because we have thought out our personal code of ethics and we choose to do the right thing.