Every night when Avery Sax goes to sleep, she says the twice-daily prayer known as the Shema.

“I’ve always said my prayers before bed, but now I realize they have bigger meaning,” she said.

The 11-year-old was airlifted to Children’s Hospital Los Angeles in March 2011 after a hemorrhage, and diagnosed with an arteriovenous malformation that affects her brain’s blood vessels. It was touch and go for several weeks. (Her condition has been classified as inoperable, due to the high risk of further bleeding and the diffuse nature of the malformation.)

Once released with a slew of warnings, Avery made the decision to make sure she lives life to its fullest. She likes to cheer, bicycle, swim and walk, and also writes a blog to try and help people make better choices for themselves. Inspired by services and classes at her local Chabad-Lubavitch center, she infuses everything she does with a Jewish outlook.

Currently she’s spearheading a challenge called Recycle with brAvery, aiming to inspire others to believe in themselves, each other and G‑d. She set a goal of collecting 100,000 plastic bottles and aluminum cans by Earth Day, and added another zero to the end of her goal, aspiring to collect one million bottles and cans by the end of the year.

“I think we can change the world and make the whole world a better place to be, one bottle at a time,” Avery remarked. “I’m only 11 years old, but I’ve seen how much people have done.”

“Avery strongly believes in something she cannot see,” Avery’s mother, Kimber Sax, said of her daughter’s faith. “She set a huge goal, a number that most cannot fathom. But by inspiring people to act, by showing people they can make the choice, she’s inspired people to believe in themselves, to see that their actions make a difference.

“The process forces so many of us to believe, to have faith and trust that there is always hope,” she added.

Even though doctors have told her that she might not wake up in the morning, Avery kisses her mother good night each evening, and takes strength from the knowledge that G‑d will take care of her.

“My own child impresses me,” said Sax.

Judaism, and Avery’s connection with Chabad of Moorpark directors Rabbi Shimon and Devorah Leah Heidingsfeld, plays a huge role in keeping her motivated. She started attending the Chabad Hebrew school six months before she was diagnosed, and was up and out the door every Sunday without complaint. Her mother expressed her gratefulness to Chabad for making faith tangible to her kids.

“She loves everything there is to love about a Jewish home and family; she even adores going to Devorah Leah and Rabbi Shimy’s house so she can learn more about being kosher and cooking,” her mother explained. “She just loves everything that makes her feel closer to the warmth and joy of being Jewish.”

Avery spends time at the Chabad House helping cook, and on Fridays and Saturdays she can often be found at the park with the Heidingsfelds’ three kids.

“They taught me how to relax and enjoy Shabbat,” said Avery. Instead of going shopping with her friends, she slows it down some on the special day. “I was usually running around and doing all sorts of stuff, and now I relax and do Shabbat.”

When Avery was in the hospital, the rabbi would go home to have dinner with his family, and then turn around and make the long drive back to see Avery; if he couldn’t come, he made sure that another local rabbi was there. Children from the local school made her gifts, lifting her spirits at Purim time and beyond.

“I can be super-duper sick and tired, and not feeling well and vomiting, and then they’ll come visit and knock on the door,” said Avery. “As soon as they knock on the door, I’ll jump up and be happy, like I’m not sick at all.”

Her mother said that such transformations are amazing.

“I truly have a very happy child, and I think she’s happy and she gets happier when she’s there,” Sax said of her daughter’s connection to the Chabad House. “I think she’s learned enough through Devorah Leah and Shimy to feel that everything happens for a reason, and that the more mitzvahs that we do, the higher the probability that she’s going to go down the path that’s intended for her.”

People have been trying to fundraise for her since she got sick, Avery said, but she wanted them to think bigger, to muster assistance for others around the globe.

“Why fundraise for me,” she remarked, “when you can fundraise for the entire world and planet?”

When it comes to her recycling project, she’s just as focused.

“If I didn’t believe my community could come together to reach this goal, I wouldn’t have set it,” she said. “I see the good in the world with everyone, and I believe everyone is good at heart.”

The Heidingsfelds have been encouraging the Sax family to keep kosher and to call Avery by her Hebrew name. Devorah Leah Heidingsfeld noted that when Avery was in the hospital, saying the Shema practically made her whole day.

“She’s just very into connecting,” Heidingsfeld observed.

Community member Isaiah James said that people just can’t help but be inspired when around Avery.

“She’s just so fun-loving, and has so much joy,” he said. “She exudes and maintains this beautiful joy despite the circumstances.

“I’m just taken aback and in awe of how much strength this child has,” he continued. “It empowers me to be stronger, despite what’s going on in my life.”