Hayden Dean
Hayden Dean

At FJA, where I am currently a sophomore, there is a strong emphasis on the importance of engaging in the community and helping others, as these are critical core values that are essential parts of being Jewish.

Growing up in a Jewish family has always been important to me, as I resonate with the strong sense of community and deep history that brought us to where we are today. I am constantly looking for ways to learn more about my religion and incorporate strong values into my life, which is part of what led me to Frankel Jewish Academy (FJA). Completing my bar mitzvah three years ago, however, is what made me realize that one of the most important values in the Jewish religion was one that I will continue to live by each and every day — the importance of helping others.

B’nei mitzvahs do not only signify when a child becomes an adult in the Jewish religion — it is also a chance for Jewish individuals to perform a “mitzvah” and give back to the community. As such, I chose to take part in volunteering with TOPSoccer, where I worked with developmentally challenged children and helped them get more involved in sports teams. Playing a part in creating joy and a sense of accomplishment among these players was gratifying. In fact, it was this experience that helped me see how critical helping others was in building a strong sense of community.

From this point on, I knew I would continue taking part in mitzvahs — both large and small — far beyond my bar mitzvah.

I later decided to become more active in my community through Congregation Shaarey Zedek, where I found out about another volunteering opportunity that involved helping elderly individuals with landscaping. This was during fall of 2021 — amid the peak of the pandemic — which limited the ability for the elderly to perform tasks as they usually would. To help, we raked and bagged leaves, as well as planted flowers to improve the outdoor appeal of their homes. Despite a hard and tedious day of work, I was pleased to see the happiness we brought the homeowners once the work was complete, especially during a lonely and uncertain time.

At FJA, where I am currently a sophomore, there is a strong emphasis on the importance of engaging in the community and helping others, as these are critical core values that are essential parts of being Jewish.

Over my last two years at the school, I have discovered even more opportunities to get involved in the community, including with JARC, a nonprofit organization that supports individuals with developmental disabilities. Here, I have helped execute events and foster a strong sense of community for these very individuals. I have recently become involved with student leadership within the organization, where I am tasked with encouraging more individuals to volunteer and support JARC.’s efforts.

Overall, being an active member of the Jewish community helped me realize how important — and how rewarding — volunteering is. Having a bar mitzvah, belonging to Shaarey Zedek and attending FJA has taught me that helping others is critical to fostering a strong sense of community. I feel fortunate to have grown up in a family that instilled these strong Jewish values in our lives, and I am even more grateful that I have had the opportunities to continue to live by them each and every day.

Hayden Dean is a sophomore at Frankel Jewish Academy.

Previous articleA ‘Repentance Bot’
Next articleThe Farewell Tour