Tag: LocksofLove

Putting the Mitzvah Back in Your Bar or Bat Mitzvah: Creating Meaningful Mitzvah Projects (Part 2 of 2)

As I noted in my previous post, 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 second of two entries that describe a few of my favorite Mitzvah Projects that some of my clients have created to benefit others:


SUPPORTING THE ABAYUDAYA JEWS OF UGANDA

Gianna, from Woodland Hills, California, decided to help a group of people on the other side of the world: The Abayudaya Jews of Uganda. The Abayudaya are a tribe of people whose leader converted the whole community to Judaism over one hundred years ago. They strive to live in peace alongside their Christian and Muslim neighbors and are helping to increase the quality of life for all Ugandans. Under Rabbi Gershom Sizomu’s leadership, they now have a Medical Center open to everyone and around the time of Gianna’s bat mitzvah, were raising money to build a Community Center and Childcare Center.

Gianna had a special connection to the Abayudaya Jews of Uganda. Their spiritual leader, Rabbi Gershom Sizomu, did his rabbinic internship at Shomrei Torah Synagogue in West Hills, California. Shomrei Torah is located up the street from Temple Aliyah, Gianna’s synagogue, and Temple Aliyah’s cantor, Hazzan Mike Stein, with whom Gianna and her family are very close, formed a close relationship with Rabbi Sizomu during his internship at the neighboring synagogue.

While the Abayudaya raised enough money for a physical building to hold their new childcare center, Gianna knew a building was not enough. As she wrote on an insert included with her invitation, “Children need a lot of activities to keep them busy and learning. My mitzvah project is to raise money to furnish toys, books, and playground equipment for the new Childcare Center in Mbale, Uganda.”

The childcare center serves Jewish, Christian and Muslim children so their mothers can work and contribute to the growing economy. Gianna was inspired to do this as her mitzvah project because both of her grandmothers were preschool teachers, and have always worked to promote peace. She wanted to honor them as she became a bat mitzvah by providing the Abayudaya with everything they need in order to provide quality childcare to Jewish, Christian and Muslim families in their community.

For more information about the Abayudaya Jews of Uganda, click here: Abayudaya Jews of Uganda

For more information about the Abayudaya’s Synagogue and Community Center, click here: Abayudaya’s Synagogue and Community Center


ENHANCING EDUCATIONAL OPPORTUNITIES FOR ETHIOPIAN JEWS

Yael and Akiva’s b’nai mitzvah project was inspired by their sister Rosa, who was born in Ethiopia. Being twins themselves, they twinned with an Ethiopian boy and girl in Israel to help sponsor their B’nai Mitzvah preparations. They worked with a charity called The North American Conference On Ethiopian Jewry (NACOEJ). In addition, they raised funds to help NACOEJ serve the larger Ethiopian community in Israel who have fulfilled their dream of reaching Zion, which is how they refer to Israel.

Many people in this vibrant community are thriving. However, many are still struggling. It is especially the children of these pioneers who need the help of NACOEJ and their programs. Often their parents speak little or no Hebrew and cannot help their children with school work. Even today, only half of Ethiopian-Israeli elementary school children reach grade level. To change this, the NACOEJ Limudiah Program provides intensive after-school education to about 750 children a year. NACOEJ also has sponsorship programs for Ethiopian-Israeli high school and college students.

Click here for more information about the NACOEJ, click here: North American Conference on Ethiopian Jewry (NACOEJ)


RAISING MONEY TO PROVIDE CAMP EXPERIENCES FOR KIDS WITH SERIOUS PEDIATRIC ILLNESSES

Weston and Lindsay are 17 months apart so they decided to share their b’nai mitzvah. As their special Tikkun Olam project, they chose to support a wonderful organization called Chai Lifeline, a not-for-profit organization dedicated to helping children and families who are affected by serious pediatric illness. This organization is particularly near and dear to Weston and Lindsay’s hearts because Chai Lifeline has significantly helped a family that is very close to them. Chai Lifeline offers free programs and services that allow seriously ill children and their families to receive much-needed social and emotional support, therapeutic recreational activities, educational support, crisis intervention, and special camp experiences that give the children a vacation from illness and pain.

Weston and Lindsay chose to raise money to give the children of Chai Lifeline a special experience at Camp Simcha, where they can go to forget about illness and experience the joy of childhood.  Since Weston and Lindsay love music and theater arts, their goal was to raise $5,000 to fund a program called “The Show Must Go On” for the kids at camp. They asked guests to make donations in honor of their b’nai mitzvah. They also collected toys for the children of Chai Lifeline.

For more information about Chai Lifeline, click here: Chai Lifeline

For more information about Camp Simcha, click here: Camp Simcha

#BarMitzvah
#BatMitzvah
#BnaiMitzvah
#HelpingTheWorld
#MitzvahProject
#TikkunOlam
#Abayudaya
#UgandanJews
#NorthAmericanConferenceOnEthiopianJewry
#NACOEJ
#EthiopianJews
#ChaiLifeline
#CampSimcha
#PediatricIllness

Putting the Mitzvah Back in Your Bar or Bat Mitzvah: Creating Meaningful Mitzvah Projects (Part 1 of 2)

 

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.

#MitzvahProject
#BarMitzvah
#BatMitzvah
#TikkunOlam
#HelpingTheWorld
#TheFriendshipCircle
@TheFriendshipCircle
#LocksofLove
@LocksofLove