Using a simcha as an opportunity to think of others
By Chandrea Serebro
In the search for people who used their simcha as an opportunity to give back, there was no shortage of people with whom to speak. The good being done out there is positively overwhelming! And there is no better time or opportunity for good than using this time of joy and personal growth, a milestone and life achievement, to do for others. Here are a few stories we found…
A group of girls used their simchas to do good, each in their own way.
Talia Lapedus organised a collection of baby food to donate to children in need, which was distributed through the Angel Network.
Kayla Rubin donated more than 10 percent of her bat mitzvah money that she received to the Malka Ella Foundation, and then she still donated further to her shul, the Chabad of Savoy.
Alexa Katz’s bat mitzvah arranged a collection of food items for the animals at Woodrock Animal Rescue, to help our furry friends in need.
Demi Laffer had a bat mitzvah with the theme of books. First using over 500 books collected earlier in the year for décor, Demi then added further books donated by the function guests and donated all of these books to Hospice.
Jamie Treger donated money to Jaime Rose (a young girl suffering from cancer), and she bought a plasma TV for Arcadia.
Danny Mofsowitz, Marketing Director of Atlas Finance
“For our corporate year-end function, we too wanted our company and the staff to be able to enjoy the good feeling of giving back while at the same time changing the world for good in a real way. So at the function, we used fruit trees as our centrepieces, which not only looked gorgeous, but once we were done with them we donated the 77 trees to local underfunded schools to plant and enjoy. We also used tenors from a school in Vereeniging as our entertainment (they were unbelievable!) and made a donation to their school afterwards.”
“In order to do something for good in honour of my bat mitzvah, I chose to raise money for a bar mitzvah boy whose family could not afford to pay for a bar mitzvah for him. I am fortunate in that I have grown up with parents who believe in doing good for others and making a difference in the community. They inspired me to do something meaningful for my bat mitzvah year, and try and make a difference in someone else’s life. I found that my small mitzvah made a great impact on others and they were grateful for the opportunity to be a part of such a wonderful mitzvah. I would encourage others to try and make their simcha meaningful by focusing on helping others and not just focusing on themselves, because it is happening all around and it was inspiring to see for myself. Not only were people incredibly generous with their money, but some people even offered their services for free or at a much reduced rate. Our community is amazing.”
“Becoming a bat mitzvah means taking on the mitzvot of the Torah. I didn’t want to have a big party to mark this occasion. I wanted to do something special to help other people; something that would carry on after my bat mitzvah had ended. Because I feel strongly about helping hospital children to be happier children, together with the help of my parents, I started an organisation called I SEE U. We launched it on International Mitzvah Day at the end of last year. To start, we are collecting books, bears, DVDs, and baby mobiles for children to use in hospital, and the bears are for them to take home. And because many of the children don’t have food at home, we are also collecting food for them to take home. On a larger scale, we are also collecting money to revamp paediatric hospital wards which are in dire need of some TLC. We hope to have a website soon which will allow people to see what is being done and so that they can donate online too. This project will hopefully help a lot of children directly, and it will also be special for those people giving to the project, by knowing that they are making a big difference in the lives of sick children. I know what it is like to be in hospital, and it feels good and important to help other children have an easier, happier time when they are there. I hope that other boys and girls will contact us if they would like to use I SEE U as their chesed project for their bat mitzvahs or bar mitzvahs. Nothing is better than the warm, fuzzy feeling you get when you do something good.” For more Information email firstname.lastname@example.org or contact Shelley on 084 261 4649.
“Since the age of four, my parents used to take me to the Chevrah Kadisha before Yom Tov to pack food parcels for those who cannot afford food on their table, and therefore do not celebrate the holidays with happiness and ease. This made me very aware of the mitzvah of loving your neighbour and giving back to one’s community. As my bar mitzvah fell just before Pesach, and there are so many Jewish families and individuals who unfortunately do not have the means to buy Kosher for Pesach food, let alone have a seder, my family and I felt that it would be a great opportunity to take the money that we would have used on decorations and put it to better use. So, instead of having the traditional table decorations at my function, we had Kosher for Pesach food items as display, which were then donated to the Chev to be given out as food parcels. I also donated a portion of the money that I received as gifts to the Chev as part of their “777 initiative”, which brought happiness to others in our community. On a personal level, it gave me a great sense of gratitude that in some small way I was able to help people who needed it. I believe that it created awareness for people at my simcha that we can all make a difference in our own way. Seeing the gratitude on the face of the Chev employees when I handed the food over made the whole cause worth it. As a bar mitzvah is a time of accepting upon oneself the duties of a man, I realised that it was my responsibility to help others, and doing so left an everlasting impact on my life. It made me realise that I am part of a greater community and cause, and that we can all make a difference with the talents and blessings which Hashem has given us. The fact that my bar mitzvah not only gave me simcha, but enriched the Pesach of other people made the significance of my bar mitzvah so much greater. The whole experience taught me that Hashem gives a person items in this world which are not for him to use but rather to be given to someone else. I hope others have the ability to realise this as well – that in their own way, be it big or small, each person can change the world.”
Taryn Hatzkilson, Group Marketing Manager, Chevrah Kadisha
“There is a beautiful Jewish tradition to share the joy of our simchas by making tzedakah part of them. At these special moments in our lives we thank Hashem for His wonderful blessings by thinking of others. A donation to the Chevrah Kadisha in honour of your wedding guests is a meaningful and touching tribute. That is why, at the Chev, we design and print elegant cards to match your décor which can be placed at each place setting.”
“Although the birth process is accompanied by pain (wife!) and anxiety (husband!), this is strongly overshadowed by Hashem’s middah of chesed. I believe there is no greater revelation of Hashem’s unbridled chesed than the miraculous birth a of child, which in turn provides parents with the opportunity to develop their own middah of chesed – by giving selflessly to their child. After the birth of our son, Moshe Tuvia, my wife and I wanted to show our immense gratitude to Hashem for delivering our baby safely to us. In addition to our commitment to raise Moshe Tuvia with strong Jewish values, we wanted to try to emulate Hashem’s middah of chesed. We decided to ask for those attending the bris to make a donation to a child who required costly treatment overseas for his illness. We realised that this need was so much greater than just another cute outfit or baby toy could ever be. Baruch Hashem the child has made a strong recovery, and we continue to hope and pray for good health and Hashem’s richest blessings for him and all of Klal Yisrael.”
Alice Friedman, Managing Director, Yad Aharon & Michael – The Jewish Food Fund
“I have the fondest memories of brides who have stopped by our Bayit in their wedding dresses on their way to their chupah in order to give tzedakah to those in need, with the specific request that I hand it out within 24 hours of their wedding. It is so special that these brides think of others on their very special day! There have also been many couples who have requested that donations be given to Yad Aharon in lieu of wedding or anniversary gifts.”
Joe and Gabi Fine
“We believe that tzedakah is about more than giving material things to those is in need – to give tzedakah is to give of yourself by being compassionate and empathetic. Those are some of the values we wanted to celebrate at our wedding. So many people were doing so much for us to make our wedding picture perfect, and we were surrounded by such positive energy, that we wanted to share some of what we were fortunate to be receiving with people who needed it more than we did, which is why we decided to partner with the UJW and donate solar lights to 750 needy people as part of the UJW Mitzvah Day Project in November 2015. Besides the physical help that having a source of light provides, we hope that our small gesture gave another community hope that there are people out there committed to helping them. Our wedding was a celebration and a bringing together of our families and friends as much as it was a celebration of us – we were lucky enough to spread our circle of celebration even wider, which made it all the more joyful.”
“I chose to do a chesed to mark the occasion of my bat mitzvah as I wanted my bat mitzvah to be more than just about me. I arranged a raffle to raise money for new TVs for the new Arcadia. I started my raffle before the new Arcadia fundraising campaign began, so I helped make people aware of it and the importance of building this new home for these Jewish children. I learned a lot about raising money, the ups and downs of it, and I feel like I have made a difference to Arcadia in a real way at the same time.”
Brett and Yael Pollak
“My wife and I decided that it would be preferable for those attending the bris of our son to make a donation towards the furnishing of the newly-built Arcadia, rather than purchasing a gift for our son. We are blessed to have all that we require in order to take care of his needs. As a result, we felt that the monetary resources that would otherwise have been spent on those gifts could be more effectively utilised by providing for the kids of our community who may not have the privileges that we aspire to provide for our son. It was an incredibly opportune occasion to do something for a group of people in need, without much effort at all!”