Mitzvah kids making it meaningful

Putting money to good use

By Chandrea Serebro

Danielle Aires

Danielle Aires believes one of the most important things to do as a Jewish girl becoming a woman on her Bat Mitzvah is chesed, “to change someone else’s life”. So, for her Bat Mitzvah she collected all recyclable items to give to Hugo’s Greenhood team of recyclers, and because she did a challah bake for her Bat Mitzvah, there was plenty. “I started a campaign, ‘Baking a Difference’, with an ambitious goal of raising enough money to sponsor the challot for the DL Link patients for a year. Just a small gesture of providing a fresh challah can uplift someone’s spirit and feed his neshama, and I wanted to be a part of making that happen. I realise how important it is to just do it, because small things can make a big difference. Like you train your muscles to get strong, chesed works the same way. By doing more at an early age, it leads to a good habit for the rest of your life.” and to get involved

Shai Bome

Shai Bome wanted to add meaning to his Bar Mitzvah for both himself and his parents by giving back. “I was fortunate to have a special Bar Mitzvah celebration, and I didn’t want it to be all about getting without giving back to others.” Shai chose to assist Yad Aharon with their end of the year toiletry collection for kids going on camp who otherwise couldn’t necessarily afford toiletries. “With the permission of my principal at Hirsh Lyons, I canvassed at school, on parent’s groups, Facebook, and Whatsapp, asking people for support. It was also a good way of getting others involved.” For Shai, it felt good knowing that doing a small deed made a big impact on other kids. “It is important for the youth to give back to the community any which way we can. I hope that I set an example for other barmi boys. I want them to see that even the smallest mitzvah can make an impact on other people’s lives – and that if you try to do something you can always make it happen.” to get involved

Jamie Janks

“My parents have always taught me about giving to those less fortunate, so I wanted to make the mitzvah in my Bar Mitzvah more meaningful.” Jamie decided to partner with Souper Troopers, an organisation that runs events every month for people living on the streets, to uplift them and give them hope and dignity. Souper Troopers were holding a 4th birthday celebration and wanted to give each attendee a pack containing a blanket, beanie, scarf, socks, and toiletries – and Jamie wanted to collect as much of these items as possible.

Using Facebook, his personal network, and giving a speech at his school assembly, Jamie spread the word and the donations began to roll in. “In the end, we managed to donate 50 complete packs! We also gave an additional 50 scarves, 50 beanies, and 50 pairs of socks. Souper Troopers got awesome donations directly and at the event they had 600 completed packs that were handed out. People were so generous, and it was awesome how everyone supported and made such an effort.” To top it off, Jamie went to the birthday event and “the energy was electric”. “There was food, cake, hot chocolate, they gave each other haircuts, and they had live entertainment from Nik Rabinowitz and Good Luck; everyone was laughing and dancing. It felt so good to know that at least 50 people will be warmer this winter. I saw how easy it is to make a difference. We are the future of this country and we need to look after each other and be kind. I realised how much I take for granted. And that I should take what I have and try to help others with it.” to get involved

Noa Nerwich

Noa Nerwich had a street party for her Bat Mitzvah, and the idea that she would be out on the street enjoying her celebration gave her pause to consider the many girls her age who call the streets their home. Noa decided to partner with Kids Haven, a shelter for street children or children at risk, to mark her special day and do something impactful to change the lives of these girls. “Each year, as winter approaches, we snuggle into our warm winter PJs and slippers. For the Kids Haven girls, this is an unknown luxury.” Each girl in Noa’s grade was invited to co-host the 22 girls at Noa’s home pyjama party, where they enjoyed manicures and pedicures, pizza, goodies, and love. Each girl was paired with a ‘buddy’ and asked to prepare a pack for them with pyjamas, slippers, and underwear in their size, to present to them while connecting with them, engaging with them, spoiling them, and essentially hosting them for a night they will remember. Noa also used her network to collect toiletries and supplies for each girl to receive a full goodie bag of toothpaste, toothbrush, water bottles, deodorants, beanies, jewellery, make up, soap, face cloths, chocolate, sanitary pads, warm socks, and a beautiful top. Hot chocolate and additional toiletries were sent back to the haven for the rest of the children there. “We danced, we sang, we laughed, we played, and, for just one night, we were just girls being girls across divides.” to get involved

Amira Cohen

“A few months before my Bat Mitzvah, my Grandpa passed away, so I wanted to make my Bat Mitzvah memorable not only for the family and friends around me, but to transform a time of loss into one of gain. One of the skills my mom always taught me is that in order to grow yourself, you have to help others around you grow too.” Amira chose to help all the children from Lefika La Phodiso, an art and psychotherapy centre for abused and abandoned children. Amira got the name, gender, and age of each child there and bought one box for each which would be their festive gift. The boxes with each child’s details were displayed on a table, and guests could take home a box and fill it with gifts and necessities specific to the child’s age and gender. “Wow! What a response we got! We had people taking five boxes home and filling it with the most unbelievable things you can imagine. I’ll never forget the elation I felt when people began asking for more and more boxes. It really showed me how lucky I am to be part of a religion that instils chesed as a foundation in life. One cannot be expected to get if one cannot give. The kids received so much, they were over the moon, and almost all of them got two boxes each.” Now, almost four years later, Amira has advice for her younger sister entering her Bat Mitzvah year. “Giving has no limits. Give time. Give patience. Give gratitude. Sure, the dancing and music is great and all, but the feeling of giving is what you’ll really remember from your Bat Mitzvah and your life in general.” to get involved

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