By Sarah Schwartz
This Shabbat, the Big Apple Adventure crew experienced meaningful services and speeches and participated in impactful discussions about heroes.
We first heard from Jamie Lassner, who is a volunteer EMT with Hatzalah. He was one of the first responders on 9-11 and he explained to us some of his experiences. I think this was very meaningful for all of us to hear firsthand about the scene in New York on and after 9-11. Jamie also opened up about his struggles with PTSD as an effect of the trauma he saw on 9-11.
With most of us not being alive when 9-11 happened, we learned that everyone in New York came together as a family during that time, and how all the first responders, no matter their race or rank, worked toward one cause of saving as many people as they could.
Jamie also taught us that one small act of kindness could positively affect someone’s life in a big way.
After hearing about Jamie’s experiences, we broke up into small groups and discussed what a hero is. We had previously heard from Jamie and other Jewish police officers in New York who are considered heroes, so it was important to express our opinions and learn about the different meanings of the word.
After discussing, the groups discovered that [according to Jewish tradition] a hero is someone that puts others before themselves. We also talked about traits that could contribute to being a hero and reflected on our own. In my group, one of the big discussions was whether you become a hero after one act of heroism, or if it takes multiple. We came to the conclusion that after one act of heroism, you add a badge of hero. The badges then add up with the more acts of heroism one does.
One of the big themes in the conversation was that G-d made each one of us for a reason and gave us certain traits to make a difference in the world. For me, this was very inspiring to hear because sometimes we can be frustrated that some of our traits set us back. I learned that all of our traits are like a puzzle; all of our pieces fit together to create us, and all the pieces of everyone in the world fit together to make a difference.
We also had services on Friday night and Saturday morning where we all sat together to pray and sing. This was an amazing experience for all of us because we were able to make new friends and spend time together!
Sarah Schwartz, second from right, is a freshman at Stevenson High School in IL. This is her first trip with NCSY and Springboard!