Making the party something bigger and better
By Chandrea Serebro
“Yad Aharon was privileged to be chosen by a bat mitzvah girl as the perfect venue to celebrate this momentous occasion in a manner which went beyond the confines of family and friends,” says Alice Friedman of Yad Aharon. “The family and friends who attended the event actively and happily participated in the mitzvah of chessed by packing our food parcels for the following day’s distribution. We hoped that this girl’s courage to do things differently would inspire many others to celebrate through giving.” Already, it has grown from there…
Asher and Avigail Goldberg
“The bat mitzvah of our eldest daughter, Dina, was coming up and we were struggling to come up with ideas of what to do for it. Our main focus was that it should be something that was meaningful to her. We felt that there are no written rules for a bat mitzvah (unlike a bar mitzvah, where the boy gets an aliyah and puts on tefillin, etc.), but that it is up to everyone’s own interpretation of the event. We wanted that Dina should understand that she is now an adult, who is responsible for her own actions, but also that she is part of a broader society and a community, and that this makes her responsible for others as well.
We knew that we would be spending the money anyways, yet we wanted it to go further than money could take us. We, along with Dina, wanted to step out of the social norms and take the chance to do something big, thinking out of the box, and doing something special with the opportunity with which her bat mitzvah presented us. We had to weigh up the pros and cons, and, after much discussion, we realised that it was an opportunity to do something great, not just for her, but for others as well. We asked ourselves this: what kind of feeling do we want when we get in the car to go home from the event? Do we want it to end with the packing away of the chairs, or could there be a lasting effect that could then go on to have a ripple effect?
Ohr Natanel, Yad Aharon’s school lunch project, really spoke to us, and the idea that Dina could be packing a school lunch for a girl just like her in every other way resonated. This idea then grew and evolved to include packing boxes for entire families. We decided we would have a mini-event at Yad Aharon itself, complete with music and food and speeches and dancing. But it turned out to be so much more. Dina, friends and family, and the girls had such fun packing vegetables in each individual box in an ambiance of simcha and celebration. They enjoyed Chanukah donuts, ice-cream, drinks, and the music went on after we had finished packing and we all danced and had some time to enjoy ourselves. I do think that when we got into the car to leave, we definitely had the feeling that great opportunities are not to be missed, and we were so grateful that we took this chance to make Dina’s bat mitzvah meaningful and memorable.”
For months we had been toying with the idea of what to do for our daughter’s bat mitzvah. We wanted to use it as an opportunity to further instil the message in our daughter that we wanted to highlight on her bat mitzvah day – about growing up to be a person who wants to give to other people. We wanted something meaningful, which would change what she got out of the event. As Jewish parents committed to Torah values, it was imperative for us that our daughter has a clear understanding of what it means to become a bat mitzvah – that she needs to aim to live a life as a Jewish woman committed to Torah and mitzvos, and that the day itself highlights this. We wanted to instil in our daughter the importance of being a contributor towards Am Yisrael – a giver rather than merely a taker – of walking in the ways of Hashem and doing good for others because Hashem wants us to do chessed.
Among the many important qualities that need to be inculcated in a Jewish woman growing into adulthood is that of chessed. When we heard that someone recently celebrated their bat mitzvah at Yad Aharon, we were immediately taken with the idea. It really appealed to us as a wonderful way to launch a career of true Torah chessed in her adult life, at the same time as having a real impact in a clear and tangible way. She wanted to celebrate her actual simcha at Yad Aharon, enjoying her special day at the same time as giving her guests and herself the opportunity to do it with chessed and giving. We were ecstatic that what she felt was important about the day was in line with all the things we wanted to impart, and we jumped at the opportunity.
So we went ahead, and her bat mitzvah was a day to remember; it was a meaningful and productive activity that was thoroughly enjoyed by all. Yad Aharon, who do such an unbelievable chessed for our community, got to enjoy extra packers and extra volunteers and help, but the benefit was really for each and every guest there. We were all reminded to feel grateful for everything that we have and not to take anything for granted. We were reminded that every banana we packed on that day went to a family that wouldn’t otherwise have that banana if it wasn’t for Yad Aharon. The feedback from everyone was that it was so special; everyone loved it. The focus of the evening was that we are all doing something good, and the bat mitzvah girl was radiant; she was literally shining, and she took it all in, enjoying every second of her day.