You Gotta Have Faith

Jacob - St. Louis, Missouri
Entered on May 6, 2009
Age Group: Under 18

My religion, Judaism, presents many challenges, but I enjoy meeting them and learning from them because it instills in me a sense of responsibility and connection to my tradition. I learned about my religion while attending a Jewish day school and that experience helped to strengthen my commitment and beliefs. I believe my religion has become a way of life and the life experiences it has offered me have strengthened my character and beliefs. My religion has motivated me, contributed to my inner strength, and has been a source of pride.

When I was in the eighth grade, I took a big step to becoming more committed and observant because I was learning from my rabbi about the significance of tradition. Before becoming committed to my religion I did not really think about how important the things I do were, like what I eat or why prayer is necessary. I have learned that these everyday events can bring meaning to my life and help me to be a better person. When I went on my eighth grade trip to Israel, everything fell into place and I realized that keeping Kosher is a way of life. I realized that being more observant has helped me be healthier and provided structure while elevating my spiritual level. The difference I noticed is that I feel connected to my religion and I am a more respectful person.

Another aspect that helped raise my level of being more respectful is the idea of repairing the world, Tikkun Olam. I learned that charitable giving and acts of loving kindness is a responsibility in fixing the world. I never really saw it as my “job” or responsibility as a kid to repair the world. It was during my Bar Mitzvah preparation that I volunteered at a food pantry and with special needs children, these experiences helped me to see the significant impact it had on others and myself. Ever since I saw how important it was to give food to the poor and needy, I have continued to work there periodically. A famous teaching in the Torah, “love your fellow as yourself,” has an important metaphorical relationship to Tikkun Olam because if you were to hurt someone, you would be hurting the world and yourself. My grandparents and parents have instilled in me the importance of doing good deeds and especially helping one in need of assistance because it will help make the world a better place. This helped me realize my responsibility in working towards making a difference in the world. Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel emphasizes the significance of Tikkun Olam through his quote, “G-d is hiding in the world and our task is to let the Divine emerge from our deeds.” I have learned that helping others by repairing the world demonstrates a respect for myself and for others.

Being more committed and observant has deepened my faith and helped me feel good about myself. When I was younger, I was very shy, timid, and lacked self-confidence. The more I learn about my religion and practice my faith, my confidence grows. I have developed a stronger sense of identity and this has helped me to feel good about myself. Pride and respect for my religion are important aspects of my life, which brings meaning and significance to it. I believe that my religion provides structure, instills faith, and helps me create community connections, which in turn helps me be the best type of human being. I feel that I am a better person and have helped the world be a better place because of the influence of my religion. I believe religion guides me on the correct path to a good life.