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So You’re Having A Bar/Bat Mitzvah

"One should only use one’s face, hands, and feet
to honor one’s Creator."
(Tosefta Brachot 4:1)

How can we add that special ingredient of Tikkun Olam (fixing the world) to our upcoming simcha so that many more people can benefit from our happiness and joy?

It’s really easy to find that special idea, the one you will enjoy working on and the one that will give you a special glow when you complete your work. In the process you will see how many other people’s lives have been changed because you cared and you continue to care.

Start by asking yourself a few questions:

We all know about Passover's Four Questions -- Ma Nishtana Haleila Hazeh…..  But, here is a different set of four questions (and more):  

 
The Question We Need to Ask
Before We Ask the Four Questions
   
What are the other person’s (the person we want to help) needs?
    Then, and only then, should we ask the Four Questions.

  What am I good at?

 What do I like to do?

What bothers me so much about what is wrong in the world that I weep or scream in anger and frustration, or am speech-less at the horror of it?


Whom do I know?

And finally—


                Why not?

And finally finally!!!


                What can I do right now?


#1 may include: giving big hugs, playing soccer, baking chocolate chip cookies, talking on the phone for hours, being a computer whiz, or drawing or painting the most beautiful pictures.

#2  In order to answer what you like to do you will have to think a little bit more. What activities give you the most pleasure? Can you sit and read for hours? Are you really excited about playing the guitar or keyboard? 

#3. "What bothers you?" Are we tired of hearing that there are untold numbers of kids who go to bed hungry every night? Are you enraged when you think about what terrible things happened when the World Trade Center was attacked? Do you feel uncomfortable when you visit a nursing home and see so many people just sitting and staring into space?    Now--turn what bothers you into Tikkun Olam and make a difference.

#4. The classic example of "Whom do I know?": After the World Trade Center attack on September 11, 2001 we saw unprecedented giving and helping from all parts of the country. Some people raised money by making American flag pins with safety pins and beads. Others held bake sales -anything to raise funds to help the victims. The late George Harrison of Beatles’ fame went one step further. He remembered how his own father, a firefighter in his native England, put his life on the line every time he went out to fight a fire and then used the ”Whom Do I Know” principle to raise tens of millions of dollars for relief for fallen firefighters. How did he do it? He called all of his friends, the most famous rock stars we know, and brought them together for an incredible concert. The result? Millions of dollars for relief for the victims of the terror attacks.

Know someone who enjoys playing a musical instrument as much as you do and would like to join you in a concert at a local nursing home?

 Or, maybe you have a relative who is a dentist and is willing to give you dental supplies that can be donated to хедж фонд a dental clinic in Jerusalem? A veterinarian who could help with supplies for a fantastic animal assisted therapy program in Israel?

Are you and your friends ace soccer players who could teach kids at a homeless shelter how to play?

There is no end to the answers to this question—you just need to think about it….and, do it!


#5. "Why Not?" is generally the easiest of all: almost always the answer is, "There’s no real reason why not.  So, let’s do it."

Now — list your own answers, pick a piece of Tikkun Olam, and go do it.

What else can you do to make this a real Mitzvah party?

MITZVAH KIPPOT

Want to have the most beautiful kippot for your guests? Ones that no one has ever seen before? Brightly colored and beautifully patterned? Call MayaWorks, Kathleen Morkert, 773-506-4905, mayaworks-chi@attbi.com, www.mayaworks.org.

These kipot will not only wow your guests but will also help support the women who make them in remote villages of Guatemala.  (These women are VERY busy—you need to place your order very early.)

WHAT TO DO ABOUT INVITATIONS?

Want a really original invitation to send your family and friends? There are lots of possibilities. First, contact Carol Katzman, 402-397-9935,  ckatzman@jewishomaha.org . She can tell you how she did hers. Or, be in touch with the Jewish Foundation for the Righteous, 888-421-1221, www.jfr.org, jfr@jfr.org.

CENTERPIECES

When it comes to your party, there are so many things you can do for centerpieces: 

1. Books, CDs, and/or DVDs! An arrangement of kids’ books, audio tapes, video tapes, CD’s, DVDs, Playstation games, etc - can then be given away to a deserving organization in your area or brought to Israel for distribution.

2. Food, food, and food! An arrangement of canned and boxed foods in a basket can then be donated to a local pantry or shelter.
3. Want to go the traditional route with flowers or plants? Arrangements of individual plants and flowers can be broken up and distributed to the local hospital, shelter or nursing home, or you can ask your Rabbi or synagogue office to give you the names of congregants who might enjoy some. You can do this with balloons and bima arrangements, too.
   
  4. Speaking of bima arrangements….don’t forget you can make attractive baskets of toys and stuffed animals (like Beanie Babies) and distribute them as well.
   
5. Are you a sports fanatic? Try collecting sports equipment and arranging it as centerpieces. After the party? Give it away to local shelters where kids may not have their own equipment.
   
  6. Use your imagination! There are hundreds of ways to do this—just keep thinking Mitzvahs!

Got a caterer preparing your party? Make sure you tell them that you want all of the leftovers packed up so that you can bring them to a nearby pantry or shelter after your party. Don’t let them tell you they can’t because they don’t want to be sued. Here is a copy of the Bill Emerson Good Samaritan Food Law (a federal law which states that no one can be held liable for any illness resulting from the donation of food). Many people do not know about this law. It will be your proof if the caterer does not want to cooperate!

Selections from The New Federal Food Donation Law

The “Bill Emerson Good Samaritan Food Donation Act” appears in the Child Nutrition Act of 1966 as 42 U.S.C. 12672.  The legislation essentially states that the donor of food to a non-profit organization to people in need is free of liability.  This act provides uniform coverage for the entire country.  I have italicized the sections that relate to issues of liability:

(c) Liability for damages from donated food and grocery products.

            (1) Liability of person or gleaner.  A person or gleaner shall not* be subject to civil or criminal liability arising from the nature, age, packaging, or condition of apparently whole-some food or an apparently fit grocery product that the person or gleaner donates in good faith to a non-profit organization for ultimate distribution to needy individuals 

OK! You’ve had the service. Everyone was sooo impressed with you! The party could not have been better - everyone had a ball. Now, let's make this a real Mitzvah Bar or Bat Mitzvah. Are you going to share some of the gifts you received with others who in need? There are many programs described on this website that you can choose from. See which Mitzvah heroes and projects are of interest to you. We are happy to help and answer any questions. Here are some specific suggestions: (but don’t forget to check out the others)

 

  • HAMA Humans and Animals in Mutual Assistance - Avshalom Beni of HAMA - Israel's foremost animal assisted therapist
  • Meled School Dr. Menachem Gottesman of the Meled School - the 'last chance saloon' for high school kids
  • Moshe Yomtov Kot of Lev Ramot - Jerusalem's premier food recycling program
  • Click Linda Mosek of Click - making elders a productive part of a society
  • Shalheveth Miriam Freier of Shalhevet - Independent living for people in wheelchairs

 

And don't miss Danny Siegel's 116 Practical Mitzvah Suggestions!

 
 
       
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