Next week, there will be a holiday called Tu B’Shvat. Tu B’Shvat is the birthday of the trees. Trees are getting cut down all of the time because people want to build houses or buildings in that area. It would be one thing if for every tree that was cut down another one would be planted, but that is not the case. Trees provide us with many things that we need to survive, as well us just being a pretty sight to look at. Without trees, the world would be full of carbon dioxide, polluted, and all around ugly. Trees provide us with fruits, and they give us the oxygen that we need to breathe to stay alive. Trees should be seriously protected, and we should learn to live with them all around us, even if we have to give up having a few new buildings or houses.
This week, we started the to learn about the mitzvah צער בעלי חיים or The Ethical Treatment of Animals. For our mitzvah project, we first made dog toys out of t-shirts. With the help of a video, we cut the t-shirts into strips, made three braids, and then braided them together. On each end of the toy, there is a knot. On one side, there are parts of the strips that are sticking out so that the dog’s owner can hold on to the toy. On the other side, we cut the strips so they don’t stick out, because a dog can rip the cloth off, choke on it, and die. It was really hard to tie the knots, and it took two people to tie the knots. It was kind of like we were playing tug-of-war with each other. In the end, I think we made over twenty chew toys.
For the second part of it, we were going to make phone calls to different hygiene companies, but we ran out of time, so we are going to do it on Tuesday. You might be wondering, what does calling hygiene companies have to do with צער בעלי חיים? Well, many companies test their products on animals. They do this because they don’t want to test it on humans if it doesn’t turn out the way it was supposed to. Also, some companies use animal byproducts, or parts of animals, in their products. I know right, gross. We are going to call these companies that we use products from everyday, to find out if they test on animals, or use animals byproducts. Some products say vegan or not tested on animals on the back, so we don’t have to ask about that. Other places like hospitals test on animals before humans, so it is Ophir just in hygiene products.
If I could ask Anne Frank one question, I would ask her how she stayed positive during the Holocaust. Anne Frank was a Jewish German girl that died at the age of thirteen from a disease called typhus. Can you imagine dieing at the age of thirteen? That would mean that I would have less than two more years to live. Anne had to hide in the Secret Annicks with her mom, dad, sister, and a few other people. She had received a diary for her thirteenth birthday, and she wrote about her life in the Secret Annicks and the war. In her entries, she stayed positive. She was surrounded by so much negativity, yet she was full of positivity. That is why, if I could sky Anne Frank one question, I would ask her how she stayed positive during the Holocaust.
Anne was writing to her imaginary friend named Kitty. She was describing to Kitty everything that was happening around her. I have heard parts of a few of the entries, and in the entries, she makes it seem like it isn’t happening near her. She was still smiling, and I bet that she had a few moments where she was having a little bit of fun. I wonder if she kept a positive attitude when they got discovered by the Nazis. I know that it would have been so hard to keep smiling while being in a concentration camp. Anne Frank was an amazing girl, and she stayed posritive during the toughest of times.
In Science, we made our own creatures. Mine is called the Dancerelli. The Dancerellaiis multicellular, which means that it has more than one cell. The Dancerelli moves around by dancing. Dancerelli only wear pointe shoes or are barefoot. They always wear exercise clothes, because they are very active. They have very pretty eyes, always wear their hair in a type of bun (messy, ballet, neat, braided), and they only have brown hair. Dancerellis, look similar to humans. One difference is that they reproduce asexually. That means that if a part of them comes off, it becomes another Dancerelli.
They also start off almost microscopic, and weigh about two milligrams. They will eventually become one and three-quarters tall, and weigh around forty-four kilograms. Dancerellis grow bigger, but in stages. They start off as greats (0-12), then become experts (13-23), then become geniuses (24-56), then become top notch (57 on). Their names categorize them about how good at dance they generally are. Dancerellis are not immortal. They do, however, live until around 120. Then, we have a serene yet solemn funeral where every age group performs. Dancerellis go to school and learn things that are similar to the things that we learn, but they mostly practice and learn more dance. The adults just dance full time.
Dancerellis eat through their eyes; they just have to look at the food, and then it goes into them. They still get full, and the food is gone after they eat it. Dancerellis have to stay hydrated because they dance all of the time, so the drink only water and carbonated water. They also drink through their eyes. Dancerellis only ate junk at special occasions, so the are very healthy. Dancerellis are omnivores. They eat other animals, but they keep kosher, so they eat like I do. All other animals on DanceFanatics are protected.
Speaking of DanceFanatics, that is the planet where Dancerellis live. It has an atmosphere like Earth, and it gets hot and cold. They have seasons; Winter, Spring, Summer, and Autumn. There are no other animals that are similar to the Dancerelli. Dancerellis live on one planet all together. If DanceFanatics is attacked by other planets, all of the Dancerellis instantly stop acting nice and graceful, and become clean, lean fighting machines. They use their dance moves to help them fight. Dancerellis excrete through their butts, like us. They breathe through their noses; Dancerellis breathe Dair (DanceAir). It helps them dance up to their full potential.
For the Journel this week, we got three quotes that were by Martin Luther King. I chose to use the quote, “In the End, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.” That means that we won’t remember the scenario, or what the person said, but we will remember that our friends didn’t stick up for us. If you were getting bullied or picked on and your friend was right there, and they didn’t stand up for you, you wouldn’t forget it for at all, or at least a while. During the time of Martin Luther King, there was a lot of segregation. If a white person was being mean to an African American, and I was that person, I think that I would remember if my friend who was tanning right there, didn’t stand up for me.
This has to do with the present, because a similar scenario can happen at any time, especially at school. At many schools, there are bullies; fortunately, my school has no bullies, but it could still happen. If I was getting bullied, I would try to stand up for myself, but if my friend was there, I would want them to also try to stand up for me. If I saw someone getting bullied, I would try to stand up for them, even if I hardly know them or don’t know then at know them at all, I would try to stand up for them. It is just the right thing to do.
Last week, my middle school went to an art museum called the Cummer. They saw an exhibit called The Lift. The Lift is an exhibit that shows all of the things that African Americans suffered through like slavery and segregation. The reason my middle school went to the Lift is because in the past Jews were treated very similarly. We were slaves in Egypt, and during World War II we were treated terribly. I wasn’t with my middle school, but I have been to The Lift with my family before. I remember one set of pictures really well. Each picture said something that an African American was harmlessly doing and then got killed or arrested for it. It makes no sense to me why African Americans were treated this way. Even now, there is still some unfairness. I am glad that we all got to experience The Lift.
I just finished reading the book Drums, Girls, & Dangerous Pie by Jordan Sonnenblick with my class. It was so good. The book is all about a boy named Steven Alper and his journey through his last year of middle school. During the year, his brother Jeffrey develops a type of cancer called leukemia, which is a white blood cell cancer. Jeffrey has to make weekly trips to Philadelphia with his mom. Steven helps Jeffrey battle a life threatening disease, while dealing with girl drama, drum practice, and his slowly sinking grades.
At the end of the book, they had an epilogue, but it was very vague. I decided to make my own epilogue, six years later. In my epilogue, Steven is eighteen years old and is getting ready to go to college. Jeffrey is eleven years old and has just finished sixth grade. Steven is still friends with Renee and is still going out with Annette.
I can still remember when Jeffrey was diagnosed with leukemia. Thankfully, I can say that Jeffrey is six years leukemia free. He still has to go to the hospital every year to get tested, but he has given up on Matt Medic. He asks me to go with him every time, and of course, I say yes. Every time I walk past the room where Samantha stayed for so many years of her life, I feel a pang of sadness. I know that she would be happy to know that I am still keeping my promise to her, by staying by Jeffrey’s side.
We picked ourselves up financially, and we are now doing well. My mom went back to college, once we had enough money of course, and got a degree in Special Education. I think from being in the hospital with Jeffrey so much, she developed a soft spot for “special” kids. My dad is still in boring old accounting. How does he like that stuff? I have put my days of being a TV dinner kid behind me, and I even asked my mom to teach me how to cook, so I’m prepared for college. One time when Annette was over, yup we’re still going strong, I made her her favorite, baked ziti, and she actually liked it.
Speaking of girlfriends, today Jeffrey came home from school holding Lindsey Albert’s, Renee’s sister’s, hand. Don’t even ask me how that happened, especially since Lindsey is, in my opinion, even hotter than Renee ever was. My jaw fell straight to Antarctica when I saw them. That’s basically all that’s happened since my eight grade graduation. School’s just been school, and although I’ve improved a lot on the drums, the one show that will prove my fate, won’t be happening for another two days. What show is that you ask? Oh, only my audition for Juilliard. I’m going to drive Annette and me, that’s right, I have a license, to the audition. But right now, I have to set the table for dinner.
“Mom!” Jeffrey yelled. “We’re going to be late, and I have to pick up Lindsey on time!” Mom insisted that the whole family should be at my audition for Juilliard. Of course Jeffrey had to bring his girlfriend, Lindsey Albert. I still don’t know how that happened. “I’m going to get Annette now, so…bye!” I said. When I got in my car, I glanced at my phone, and I saw that I had missed eight calls from Annette. Anette has a thing about being late, so she thought that she had to call me so I shouldn’t forget. But seriously, how could I forget our auditions. When I pulled up to her house, she was standing in her driveway with her hands on her hips. “Finally!” she scoffed as she stormed into the car. We drove in silence, and I could tell that she was nervous because her hands kept twitching in her lap.
As we approached Juilliard, my nerves kept like flames. When we got inside, Annette and I got with numbers on them to put on our shirts, mine twelve, Anette twenty-six. We waited forever in a small, cramped room until they called Anette’s number. “Good luck,” I whispered to her as she got up and flourished, “You look great.” “Thanks,” she replied as she anxiously walked out of the room. You could slightly hear the soft ballad that she was playing. When Anette came back in, her cheeks were flushed, but she looked satisfied. “You were awesome,” I told her. In response, she gave me a hug. She was shaking almost as much as a phone when it rings on vibrate.
Soon later, they called me. I stood up, shook my hands out, and prepared to play for the most important show of my life. “Go get ’em,” Anette said to me. When I got to the drum set, I saw Renee standing behind the row of judges, along with my family, holding a sign that read, “Rock Out Steven! Get that Scholarship, You Deserve it!” I saw that she had a sign for Anette too.
I pulled out the sticks that I gave to Samantha so many years ago, I thought it was fitting to play with them, and I started to play a revised version of “Cubana Beat Cubana Bop” the song I didn’t end up playing for the All City concert. Overall, I thought I did really well.
Two weeks later, Anette and I were sitting on her couch, with letters from Juilliard in our hands. “One, two, three!” and they were open. Anette let out a shriek. “I got in Steven! I got in!” I on the other hand decided to trick her. “Did you get in Steven? Oh, tell me you got in!” “I…I,” I said in a really sad voice, “got in!” That was it, Anette and I were going to college together.
As you can see, in my epilogue, the Alpers are doing great. Steven and Anette are still together, and Jeffrey has found a girlfriend. His parents are doing well, and overall, the Alpers have a great life. What type of epilogue would you write for Drums, Girls, & Dangerous Pie?
This week we made self portraits with quotes from B’resheet. B’resheet is the first book in the Torah, but it is also a Parasha. We used quotes from the Parasha, not the book. The Parasha B’resheet is all about creation. The creation of everything on earth; plants, animals, water, light, the moon, the sun, the stars, the land, even us people. We have been studying this in our Tanach class. We made self portraits, and we put quotes in Hebrew inside of them. It was so cool, especially when we did marker water color. That may sound weird, but it is basically when you trace something in marker, and you take a brush dipped in water and brush over the marker, and then it has a water color like effect.
I chose to use seven quotes in my painting. My first quote is: ״ויעש א-לוקים…את הכוכבים״ or “and G-d made…the stars.” This quote says to me, reach for the stars. It reminds me to work towards my dreams. My second quote is: ״לא טוב היות האדם לבדו״ or “it is not good for man to be alone.” This quote says to me to love my friends and family, and I do. My third quote is: ״וירא א-לוקים את-כל-אשר עשה והנה-טוב מאוד״ or “and G-d saw everything that he had made and it was extremely good.” I like this quote because all of the phones and toys really don’t matter in the end, but all of the nature and animals and people do matter. My fourth quote is: ״שבת מכל-מלאכתו״ or “a break (or stop or end) from all of the work.” I like this quote because I keep Shabbat every week. My fifth quote is: ״נפש חיה״ or “living soul.” I like this quote because to me it says YOLO (You Only Live Once), and to live life to the fullest. My sixth quote was: ״לזאת יקרא: ׳אשה׳״ or “this is called: ‘woman’.” I like this quote because, well, I am a girl. My seventh, and final quote, is: ״מזריע זרע…עץ פרי אשר זרעו-בו״ or “plant a seed…a fruit tree will grow there.” I like this quote because I like fruit and I like plants.
Here is my picture:
In Mitzvot, we learned about the importance of an ethical will. An ethical will talks about all of your hopes and dreams for your children, not your possessions. Here is my ethical will:
This is my ethical will. I want you to try your best when doing tough tasks. Even if you fail, persevere. Embrace you Jewish heritage-it sets you aside from over half the world, and it makes you unique. Always be yourself, even if you are not liked for it, because you are great. Make sure to know who your superiors are, and respect them. Do good deeds and be humble. Volunteer and observe Mitzvot. Keep kosher and go to shul every week. Work hard and make lots friends. I want you to not mourn excessively, but remember all of the joyous things we did together. Please read this once a week and do all of these things. I will love you all forever.