2012- Nevei Kodesh
Here’s what she did:
Samara Angel, a 7th grader living in Boulder was at a swimming pool with people of various colors, shapes and sizes when she realized she was judging many of them. That’s when she knew what her service project would be about.
Samara will be called to read from the Torah on May 5th, marking her entry as an adult member of the Jewish community. The Bat Mitzvah (for girls or Bar Mitzvah for boys), the rite of passage event in a Jewish child’s life is the culmination of years of preparation, including learning to read and chant Hebrew. Part of this process includes doing a “mitzvah project” to help change the world, which usually involves getting involved in an already established charity or social cause.
A couple of people I know have serious illnesses or disabilities, and I thought how hard it must be to feel like you were being judged,” Samara explains. “That day at the pool, I realized how many judgments I was having about everything and everyone.”
From this seed of an idea, came a unique project called, “Noticing Judgments” – a website that Samara created asking people to take a pledge to notice their judgments. People who pledge are guided through an 18-day program where they are directed to notice specific judgments every 2 days (via email reminders and links to the website). Topics range from categorizing judgments, to body size, to race and ethnicity, to refraining from doing something for fear of judgments.
When Samara starting thinking of names for her website, she thought of “Stop Judgments” and “No Judgments” but realized that wouldn’t be accurate. “We all judge – and we all feel judged. It’s impossible to make them go away, but we can become aware of our judgments.”
Marisa Kaiser of Los Angeles, California took the pledge and has learned more about herself during the process. “It’s inspiring to be taken through the steps to become aware of your actions and belief systems.” So far, over 200 people have taken the pledge – not just from Boulder. Word has spread – through email and posts on Facebook. People have signed up to notice their judgments from coast to coast – from California to New York, Alaska to Florida; there are even pledges from France, Switzerland and Africa. Samara’s goal is to get at least 500 people to take the pledge. Rabbi Tirzah Firestone, spiritual leader of Nevei Kodesh, a Jewish Renewal Congregation in Boulder has known Samara since she was 5 years old and is working with her as she prepares for her Bat Mitzvah.
This is such an important project – for adults and kids alike. I hope everyone will join Samara and take the pledge to notice their judgments. Awareness of how we judge others and ourselves can make us more loving and aware human beings.”
To learn more or sign up for the 18 day challenge, please visit the Noticing Judgements website.