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Some B’nai Mitzvah Projects Inspire Passion, Commitment

[by Shiela Steinman Wallace]

There are a great many things to do when preparing for a bar or bat mitzvah. There are the obvious things, like studying the Torah portion and writing a speech. There are the fun things, like planning the party and deciding who to invite.

Another important part for many young teens is picking a mitzvah project and following through to do it. Many young people in our community include mitzvah projects in their b’nai mitzvah preparation. Four of them talked with Community about their efforts.

“I’m shaving my head for kids with cancer to fund research,” said Justin Bass. He’s raising money for the St. Baldrick’s Foundation, and has set a personal goal of $1,200.

“Five years ago,” he explained, “I got involved because my friends started doing it at Norton Elementary School. Then Noah Goldberg got cancer, and I kept doing it in honor of him.” Over the four years he has participated, Justin has raised $1,400.

This year’s St. Baldrick’s event is March 11, but Justin plans to keep raising money through his bar mitzvah on September 1. Now a seventh grader at Kammerer Middle School, Justin says, “It’s important to help other kids, and sometimes it saves lives.”

For him, doing a mitzvah project is about becoming more mature and responsible.

Noah Goldberg’s siblings, Abigail, Marnina and Ethan, were also deeply affected by his bout with cancer, so the triplets set out to collect fleece blankets to donate to hospitals, clinics and other health care facilities.

Their goal is to collect 1800 blankets, the more colorful, the better. They’ve been working on the project for 18 months, and have collected just under 1000 blankets, which they have donated to Kosair Children’s Hospital, the Home of the Innocents, the Pediatric Hematology Oncology Clinic and Chai Lifeline in Chicago and New York.

Although they just celebrated their b’nai mitzvah on January 28 at Congregation Adath Jeshurun (AJ), they plan to keep working on the project until they reach their goal.

Why blankets?

“When Noah was sick,” Abigail said, “he always got a new blanket whenever he went to the hospital to add color to the white room.”

“It’s always a comfort to kids in the hospital,” added Ethan, “and it makes life happier.”

“It gives you warmth in your heart when your realize someone in the hospital has something to keep them warm.”

Abigail and Marnina are in the seventh grade at Meyzeek Middle School and Ethan is in the seventh grade at Kammerer Middle School.

Blankets can be dropped off at AJ or contact the Goldbergs.

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