The Bliss Blog

The Bliss Blog


Mensch

I have had the honor of knowing the remarkable young man that you will be reading about in a moment for the past four or five years. We have had conversations about spirituality, energy healing and martial arts. He has friends of all ages and his ability to articulate belies his chronological age. Alexander Hill is a 13 year old, truly old soul. His parents Liora and Greg Hill are my friends and together with his twin brothers Gabe and Max,   Alexander lives in suburban Baltimore. Lest you think that one person can’t make a difference, be prepared to be surprised and delighted by the impact  that a loving and generous gesture can have. He is indeed a mensch; Yiddish for a good person whose actions are of note, and may indeed be exemplary.

How do you live your bliss?

Baseball.  It’s a game that requires brawn and brains.  It’s 75% mental.

 

Can you please tell me about your Bar Mitzvah project and how you chose it?

I started up with Habitat for Humanity for the Chesapeake Interfaith Coalition because of my parents.  My Dad was representing Baltimore Hebrew Congregation on the Board of the Interfaith Coalition.  Because of this, Habitat was now on our radar and the timing was perfect because I needed to choose a service project for my Bar Mitzvah.  The year before, for his Bar Mitzvah, one of my best friends, Alex Jerome, instead of getting gifts from everybody, asked his guests to bring in new toys for the kids at Kennedy Krieger.  My Mom took a page from that notebook and suggested I have people donate money to Habitat instead of giving gifts for my Bar Mitzvah.  I’ll admit it, I was hesitant at first.  After all, what kid doesn’t want to be laden with a mountain of presents!?  But I know that I live a privileged life.  I have everything I need, and most of what I want.  So I wanted to give somebody else the opportunity to have what you and I take for granted.  Through Habitat for Humanity of the Chesapeake Interfaith Coalition, people can and do have lives that work for them – they obtain jobs, buy their homes, live with dignity.  They have self-respect.

 
When you set out to do it, was there even the slightest clue that it would take on the grand proportions that it has? 
Absolutely not.

   Everything we do has a ripple effect. What have you seen happen as a  

  result of the loving and generous thing you have done?

A lot more people getting interested in Habitat.  A lot more people being selfless in their actions, including Bar and Bat Mitzvah kids taking on projects instead of taking in gifts.

 

What messages were you given at home that helped to create the person that you are?

Not a clue.  There are probably very subtle things that I missed, but my subconscious picked up.  My parents set a model for me by doing all the service work that they do.

 

How can other people make a difference in the lives of those that they may not even know?

 Give.  Give of their time.  Give money.  Give of themselves.
 
 
Here is an article that ran in The Baltimore Sun about Alexander’s gift.
 
 
This is the speech that Alexander offered on Sunday. You will be blown away by what he shared.
 

2/13/11

HABITAT FOR HUMANITY

HOUSE DEDICATION

Habitat For Humanity

 

On Tuesday morning, ten days ago, a 17 year old boy by the name of Mitch Perlmeter died. He had a massive heart attack while getting ready for school. Mitch was the closest thing I’ve ever had to having a big brother. When I was scared, or stuck, or worried, Mitch was the one who let me know, “It’s gonna be alright.” I don’t have Mitch anymore. But I do have his steadiness still with me. There are, however, a lot of people who are living lives of desperation – on the street, or in compromised living conditions – people who do not have, and maybe have never had, someone to tell them, “It’s gonna be alright.”

Habitat for Humanity of the Chesapeake gives people that kind of hope.

I started up with Habitat for Humanity for the Chesapeake Interfaith Coalition because of my parents. My Dad was representing Baltimore Hebrew Congregation on the Board of the Interfaith Coalition. Because of this, Habitat was now on our radar and the timing was perfect because I needed to choose a service project for my Bar Mitzvah. The year before, for his Bar Mitzvah, one of my best friends, Alex Jerome, instead of getting gifts from everybody, asked his guests to bring in new toys for the kids at Kennedy Krieger. My Mom took a page from that notebook and suggested I have people donate money to Habitat instead of giving gifts for my Bar Mitzvah. I’ll admit it, I was hesitant at first. After all, what kid doesn’t want to be laden with a mountain of presents!? But I know that I live a privileged life. I have everything I need, and most of what I want. So I wanted to give somebody else the opportunity to have what you and I take for granted. Through Habitat for Humanity of the Chesapeake Interfaith Coalition, people can and do have lives that work for them – they obtain jobs, buy their homes, live with dignity. They have self-respect.

When I met with Jayna Powell, Director of the Interfaith Coalition, I was very disappointed to find out that I couldn’t help build a house until I was sixteen. But I was glad that I could do something to help. I could raise money that was needed for a house to be built. Originally, I promised to raise $100,000 by myself, but, being twelve at the time, I didn’t have any idea how much money that really was! I failed. I did not raise the full amount needed. But I did manage to raise about $40,000. And a house is here because partners came in to help finance the remainder needed. Thanks to the Interfaith Coalition and Citigroup, not to mention all the people who planned, designed and actually built this house, Edward “Kenny” Fisher now has a home. It takes a lot of people to make this happen. It takes the partnership of everyone here and probably everyone you know to make homelessness something of the past. I didn’t raise $100,000. But I raised about $40,000. You might not raise $100,000, or even $40,000. You might just raise $20,000. Or $200. Or you might just reach into your pocket now and pull out a $20 bill. Did you know that $25 would buy a front or back entry light. $15 buys a mailbox. And $1 buys a light switch! It doesn’t matter how much you give or how much you raise. What matters is that you do it. Please give. Please ask others to give. It’s going to take all of us to let so many people know, “It’s gonna be alright.”

Mr. Fisher –

You have received a Bible from the Christian community and a Quran from the Muslim community. From my synagogue, representing the Jewish community, a tzedakah box was given to you so you could give to others like others have given to you. But I wanted to give you a gift that was just from me to you. This is a Tanakh. It is a collection of the Jewish Biblical writings both in Hebrew and in English. The reason I wanted to give you a Tanakh is because it represents the Jewish way of thinking, the foundations of our belief, what gives us our way of life. What gives me my way of life. I wanted to say to you personally, “It’s gonna be alright.” And I wanted you to have something that will always let you know, “It’s gonna be alright.” I also wanted to tell you that I’m counting on you to pass that on to others. Please. For my sake, and in honor of my friend, Mitch, but most of all for yourself, please let everyone you meet know, “It’s gonna be alright.” 

 

Yes, Alexander it really IS gonna be alright.  Thank you for reminding us.  <3

 


  • http://www.niceoko.com/ niceoko.com

    Hi! Do you use Twitter? I’d like to follow you if that would be ok. I’m definitely enjoying your blog and look forward to new updates.

    • http://www.liveinjoy.org Edie Weinstein, MSW, LSW

      Yes I do, thank you for being in touch <3

Previous Posts

Changing the Dishes
  Fellow Good Men Project author Thomas Fiffer shared his insights about the holiday of Passover. I saw his blog entry this morning as I was contemplating what to write for today's Bliss Blog. Having been raised in a Jewish home, Passover was eagerly anticipated all year long. The pre-holi

posted 9:22:24am Apr. 15, 2014 | read full post »

Self Imposed Slavery
Tonight marks the first night of Passover which commemorates the journey from slavery to freedom of the Jews in Egypt who were compelled to work at the peril of their own lives.  Jews around the world (and others who are invited guests as they were in my childhood home) will gather to celebrate a

posted 10:40:54am Apr. 14, 2014 | read full post »

That's What Makes You Strong
  Another soul passed into the Light yesterday to join the celestial choir. I first heard Jesse Winchester's music in the 80's. As a consummate singer songwriter, he had  a gift for vivid imagery that took the listener along for the ride. Songs such as Mississippi, You're On My Mind,

posted 10:43:14am Apr. 12, 2014 | read full post »

Hot Air Balloon
Recently I was speaking with someone about the things that weigh us down, like a hot air balloon tethered to the ground with heavy rope, spiked into the dirt, sandbags reinforcing them.  Self deprecation, limiting beliefs, old worn out ideas that no longer serve, all of the shoulda /woulda/ coulda

posted 9:06:23am Apr. 11, 2014 | read full post »

Open Tabs
  Chances are you have seen the commercial from back in the 80's  called This is your brain on drugs. In case you weren't yet born, check it out and in case you were old enough to remember it, here it is for your re-viewing pleasure.  Although I am drug and alcohol free (by choice and not

posted 10:36:43pm Apr. 09, 2014 | read full post »




Report as Inappropriate

You are reporting this content because it violates the Terms of Service.

All reported content is logged for investigation.