If you hear it, you must act

Ashley Mashian

Erin Sharfman, 9th Grade

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“If not now, when?” This famous question asked by Hillel applies to problems like financial struggles in the  United States  or the inevitable natural disasters that strike all around the world. Sadness, destruction, hunger, poverty, and hardships surround our lives, and are a part of our daily knowledge.

We are fortunate enough to live in an area where we thrive as people, and as a religious group; however not all people in the world are as lucky.  Haiti is one of the poorest countries in the world, stricken with sickness, poverty and an extremely high death rate, making them in great need of our help.

When we heard about the catastrophe of the earthquake in  Haiti  in my Jewish History class, I decided that it would not be right if I just heard about this tragic occurrence and did nothing. So the next day I began to raise money, and joined forces with our school’s Sustainability Director, Dave Chameides, who truly made a significant difference.

Looking back at the situation, I ask myself: ”Why did I choose  Haiti? There are so many other great local organizations who directly help Jews and non-Jews living right here in my own city.” I realize that everyone needs help and I saw this as an opportunity to make a miniscule difference somewhere that needed our help right now, and in the best interest of myself and others, took it.

On the other side, the money could have been donated to a more local cause that could have helped people known more personally, and people who have more connections to the Jewish world. But in the moment when the awful situation in Haiti surfaced, and there were countless of people in dire need, I made a decision to help those I don’t know and most likely will never meet in my lifetime. 

One can also relate this to the various occurrences when we, as Jews, have felt the obligation to donate more to  Israel , during the Intifada or during the Gaza War, for example. Ultimately, giving money to  Haiti was the right decision in the moment, as it is in similar situations like the new tragic earthquakes in  Chile. Again we can ask ourselves, “If not now, when?”

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