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B’nai Tzedek changes; introduces hands-on philanthropy program

Coming of age as a Jew is much more than having a bar or bat mitzvah ceremony and celebrating with family and friends. It’s about being counted as an adult in the Jewish community and taking responsibility for doing your own mitzvot.

One mitzvah that b’nai mitzvah candidates can do is giving tzedakah, but with all the worthy non-profit organizations out there, how can young teens make meaningful choices?

The Jewish Federation of Louisville has totally revamped its B’nai Tzedek Teen Philanthropy Program for seventh and eighth graders to make it meaningful and relevant to today’s teens.

With support and materials created by the Jewish Teen Funders Network, participants will meet once every other month. They will:

  • Write a mission statement;
  • Identify the kinds of programs they want to support;
  • Learn about, issue and evaluate RFP’s (requests for proposals);
  • Make site visits and do hands on projects; and
  • Make decisions on allocating the money available in the program.

Each participant will invest $300 from the gifts they receive when they celebrate their b’nai mitzvah, and a $200 match will be provided from the Lewis D. Cole B’nai Tzedek Fund. The money from all participants will be pooled. In addition, participants in the original B’nai Tzedek program, many of whom have funds that have remained dormant for a number of years, have been invited to add the money from their funds to the pool. Separate funds will be maintained for those who prefer that option.

Since all the funds are pooled, a significant amount of interest will be generated. The same allocation guidelines applied by the Jewish Foundation of Louisville to all its funds will be applied to this fund to determine how much participants will allocate at the end of the program.

For more information about the program or to enroll an eligible teen, contact Middle School Director Rachel Lipkin, rlipkin@jewishlouisville.org or 238-2701. To add the funds from an existing B’nai Tzedek account to the pooled fund for the revamped program, contact Jewish Federation of Louisville Vice President and CDO Stew Bromberg, sbromberg@jewishlouisville.org or 238-2739.

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