Pledge 13 Helps Pre-Teens Get into the Mitzvah Habit

[by Phyllis Shaikun]

For the 10th consecutive year, Jewish Family and Career Services (JFCS) will be offer its Pledge13 program, which has been newly named in honor of benefactors Marjorie and Robert Kohn. Pledge 13 is an opportunity for bat/bat mitzvah candidates to incorporate the performance of mitzvot into their preparation. To complete the program, participants provide 13 hours of time during their bar/bat mitzvah year in service to their community.

“This is a really valuable program,” says JFCS Pledge 13 Coordinator Shelley Kahn. “We know bar/bat mitzvah-age students are busy, and studying for their big day is time consuming as well, but we ask that during their seventh grade year, they complete 13 hours of community service. Throughout the year, JFCS will provide them with community service opportunities they might like to complete or they may have projects of their own they would like to pursue.

If Pledge 13 participants (this year there are 30) plan to complete or have already completed community service requirements as part of Beta Club or their synagogue or temple youth program, those hours can also count toward their Pledge 13 commitment and vice versa.

“We hope they will consider performing at least some of their hours in projects at Jewish sites,” said Kahn, “such as here at JFCS or at Four Courts, Shalom Tower, Jewish pre-schools, etc. If there are other community sites that interest them, their participation will be fine there as well.”

Rabbis are aware of the program and wholeheartedly support the idea that young people, especially at this age, learn about tikkun olam and the obligation of Jews to help one another and help repair their community. They have encouraged their bat/bat mitzvah students to take part in the program.

If a bar or bat mitzvah is scheduled early in the year, Pledge 13 hours can be completed after the event. A gift from JFCS acknowledging their efforts in the community will be presented to participants during their b’nai mitzvah ceremony.

Sign-up for the program takes place in September. For more information about Pledge 13, contact Shelley Kahn at 452-6341 or email

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