One of the pillars of Judaism is the notion of Repairing the World, or Tikkun Olam in Hebrew. In the Jewish tradition, it is customary for children preparing for their bar or bat mitzvahs to participate in a project in which they give back to the community. Some communities refer to this as the child’s “Mitzvah Project.” By doing a Mitzvah Project, children learn to take responsibility for the welfare of the community in which they live, and they often are reminded of their many blessings in the process.
I have the unique fortune to hear about many wonderful ways in which my clients’ children give back to their community. They range from helping animals to helping humans, from helping people in communities close to home to helping people on the other side of the world. Here is the first of two entries that describe a few of my favorite Mitzvah Projects that some of my clients have created to benefit others:
CRAZY SOCK PARTY TO BENEFIT JEWISH CHILDREN WITH SPECIAL NEEDS
For many years, ever since she was a little girl, Talia loved working with kids with special needs. Her mom found the Los Angeles Chapter of The Friendship Circle, a national charity that provides Jewish special needs children with a variety of experiences, from social and educational to recreational and Judaic. The Friendship Circle also offers a break for and support to parents of these kids as well as provides Jewish teens with opportunities to share themselves with the special needs community.
As her way to give back and demonstrate her gratitude for her own blessings, Talia planned two Crazy Sock Parties. One was the party for her own bat mitzvah. She asked her guests to wear crazy socks to the party and to bring extra pairs of crazy and funny socks to donate to the kids of The Friendship Circle. Then, a few weeks later, Talia planned a Crazy Sock Party for her Friendship Circle friends. She used part of the gift money she collected from her bat mitzvah to help pay for the second Crazy Sock Party and she gave each child a pair of their own crazy socks to wear. Talia was able to give these deserving special needs kids a similar experience to what she had a few weeks earlier.
For more information about The Friendship Circle and to find a local chapter near you, click here: The Friendship Circle.
DONATING HAIR TO LOCKS OF LOVE
Hannah decided at the age of 11 ½ that she wanted to donate her hair to Locks of Love as her bat mitzvah project. This was shortly after Hannah’s grandmother passed away from cancer. As part of her treatment, she lost her hair, and that’s what motivated Hannah to support Locks of Love, a nonprofit charity that makes hairpieces out of real hair for disadvantaged children under age 21 who lose their hair due to a variety of illnesses. Hannah’s grandmother inspired her decision because many of the children who benefit from Locks of Love are children who suffer from cancer.
For the next 18 months, Hannah did not cut her hair. But rather than simply cut her hair and send it to Locks of Love, which many people do, Hannah organized an entire event at a hair salon. She included information about her event in her bat mitzvah invitation so that people could participate if they chose to. Several friends and family members, including Hannah’s mom, donated their hair and several people made generous donations in Hannah’s honor. One family member generously donated a ponytail she’d saved for more than 40 years. It was Hannah’s willingness to donate her own hair to people less fortunate than her that motivated Hannah’s relative to finally part with the ponytail she’d saved for so many years.
The event was a huge success. Hannah collected a total of 7 ponytails and close to $1,000 for Locks of Love.
For more information about Locks of Love and to create your own fundraiser to support their efforts, click here: Locks of Love.
Read my next post for examples of more Mitzvah Projects.