Ramaz and Chesed

Seniors+planting+flowers+at+Camp+Simcha+during+the+Daniella+Moffson+Day+of+Service.

Seniors planting flowers at Camp Simcha during the Daniella Moffson Day of Service.

Ashley Behm ’24

At the beginning of this year, the news of the reinstatement of chesed hours (after a Covid hiatus) for sophomores induced mixed feelings of excitement and stress from many students,. Many were excited for the plethora of opportunities Ramaz said to be offering and the hopes of getting involved in something new that could make a difference in their community. These feelings came alongside stress about not being able to meet the semesterly, ten hour requirement plus a full day of service. 

At the beginning of the semester, opportunities for chesed such as volunteering with Dorot, an organization that addresses the challenges of the elderly population in every community, giving out food to the homeless, and packing goodie bags with Yachad, an organization that enriches the lives of Jews with disabilities, were posted to Schoology and open to anyone interested. In addition to these one time opportunities, weekly opportunities such as Teen Scene, Challah Baking, and Sefardic Bikur Holim food packing offered people the opportunity to get their chesed hours, or minutes. However as the semester continued only the weekly opportunities were made known to the student body. Additionally the options provided have been limited in scope. Many were left looking for out of school opportunities to meet the requirement. 

This year, Ramaz also reintroduced service missions with a mission to New Orleans during intersession. While many people wanted to get involved the costs were high and only a limited number of students were chosen to go. While service missions can be hard to facilitate especially if they involve air travel, there are plenty of places in the city or even the tri-state area that we could take service trips to.

Chesed is an integral part of being Jewish and is one of our core values, in Ramaz that is no exception.Ramaz prides itself on being a school of values and chasidut, and most of the time the school reflects that well. However, there are not enough opportunities to do chesed with people outside of the Ramaz community. Many students would benefit from more options of organizations that they could get involved with, especially on a regular basis, rather than getting involved one time. 

This year, I’ve taken part in Learn To Be, an online platform that connects students with underprivileged students to tutor. I found out about this opportunity through Ramaz at the club fair and stuck with it all year. Ramaz needs to present more opportunities from the beginning of the year, opportunities that students can commit to all year if they choose. 

I believe that the school should pitch chesed opportunities to students, not just under the guise of getting chesed hours. The benefits of getting involved in a charity organization are endless, such as learning how to interact with different people and how to work in a group. Since the first semester, there has been no mention of chesed hours or if they are required for the second semester. There has also been very little correspondence to the students about chesed opportunities they can get involved with, except the weekly in-school opportunities. Many students end up looking for out of school opportunities, however that can be a hard task as many organizations do not take high schoolers or are just looking for money. I believe that Ramaz should let students know of opportunities they can take part in.