By Kenny Levy, NFTY-SW President
NFTY Mitzvah Day has become a time where thousands of teens around the country join together under one cause: helping the world around us. On this day, NFTYites picked up trash, donated useful items and walked for a cause that has effected themselves or a loved one. On this day, my family, along with a few others, counted 1,817 books and donated them to the Ronald McDonald House.
From a young age, my parents always taught me that the greatest satisfaction is performing an act of kindness that puts a smile on someone’s face. This act can range from donating money, volunteering, or simply helping someone find a book they will enjoy.
During the summer of 2006, my brother, Clay, and I created a literacy foundation to encourage kids to read books and write reviews on them. This allows a child to have a place to go where they can find a book that other kids, close to their age, enjoyed and recommend. The foundation is called Kidsonbooks.org. Through our website, we have held book drives for various organizations in the Phoenix area. This past May, our book drive would not have been possible without the help from Pinnacle High School’s student government, Temple Chai, and Temple Chai Temple Youth (TCTY). These books were donated to help build and strengthen the library at the Ronald McDonald House, a “home away from home” for families facing medical challenges.
At the URJ’s Teen Leadership Institute: Kutz Camp, I learned from director Melissa Frey, “Everyone is the most important person in the world to someone.” This quote teaches us that the most important act of kindness is treating someone with generosity and acknowledgement. Tikkun Olam and Tzedakah are important aspects of improving the world we live in. Tikkun Olam teaches us that repairing the world allows us to help those who are less fortunate. Tzdakah is the Hebrew term for justice. Justice is the act of doing something that is “right.” In some cases this may be donating money. I think that the greatest form of tzedakah is done by helping others through your actions. When these actions put a smile on someone’s face, it gives you the most incredible feeling in the world.
NFTY has taught me many things about repairing the world and helping the people around us. One of the most self-satisfying events that we have in NFTY-SW is our Social Action Weekend. Throughout the weekend we volunteer at an elementary school working with children to give them the afternoon of a lifetime!
I cannot stress enough how satisfying it is to help others whom are less fortunate. Through our website and foundation we help children everyday by giving them the opportunity to explore books and share their ideas with others.
Each book drive we hold helps an organization build or strengthen a library that can provide children and adults with an opportunity to set aside any negativity in the world around them and allow them to enjoy a book that will bring a smile to their face. Through their imagination and the stories in these books, their lives can be uplifted.
Through both NFTY and Kidsonbooks.org, I have learned that the best way to brighten someone’s day is to give them a reason to smile.