When twins Lilly and Julia Besson decided to donate large containers of peanut butter and jelly to a canned food drive for the Dare to Care 5K run as part of their Pledge 13 project, it made perfect sense.
The girls aren’t identical. But the 12-year-olds, who will celebrate their b’not mitzvah on April 13 at Congregation Adath Jeshurun, are “like peanut butter and jelly,” according to their mother, Ellana. “They are separate, but dependent on each other.”
Julia, who quickly pointed out that she is one minute older than Lilly, stressed that it’s important to contribute to the community because “not all people have the same privileges.”
“The Dalai Lama says that compassion is empathy in action,” said Lilly, “That’s what we’re doing when we do community service.”
Their school is sponsoring an essay contest to award tickets to see His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama when he speaks in Louisville in May. Lilly is hopeful that her essay will earn her tickets to the event.
Other activities making up their 13 hours of community service have included baking hamantaschen for Purim, wrapping donated gifts for Chanukah and taking treats to and visiting with residents at a local nursing home. They also helped build the sukkah at Jewish Community Center with help from others.
“We like to do things with other kids because it’s a lot of fun,” said Julia. “We’ll see what other activities are coming up that we can also do.”
Lilly plays tennis and is on the golf team at Louisville Collegiate School, where she and her sister are in seventh grade. Julia plays forward for the field hockey team.
The Jewish Family & Career Services Robert and Marjorie Kohn Pledge 13 program is designed to encourage the completion of 13 hours of community service the year a young person is celebrating his or her bar or bat mitzvah. Many young people in the community choose to include Pledge 13 in the b’nai mitzvah year activities. Those who complete the program receive a certificate and a gift during their b’nai mitzvah service.