When I meet a new student who has come to me with their family so that I can help prepare them for their special day of becoming a bar or bat mitzvah, I tell them that my online courses are designed to not just help them be incredibly confident for their big day but also teach them about how to make the Torah applicable in their everyday life. When I met my student who had a bat mitzvah recently, at our first meeting I asked her what it is in the world that she wants to help improve and make better. She answered that it upsets her that there are people in the world who are poor who do not have the resources that she and her family have and that she wants to in some way make a difference. We spoke about the concept of Tikun Olam, doing one’s part to help make the world better one action at a time. My student acknowledged that she cannot end world poverty all at once but we learned that through positive actions, you can be impactful and make a difference and others do see you doing this and it inspires them as well to take action. Call it what you will, the ripple effect or domino effect but it’s incredibly powerful and moving and sets the wheels in motion when you take positive action. My online student decided that she and her family would work on a bat mitzvah project to help give girls a bat mitzvah whose families cannot afford to do that for them. I thought how incredibly noble and kind. And I was very impressed with my student. She was aware that there were girls in the world who desperately wanted to become a bat mitzvah like herself but just didn’t have the money to do so. The money to buy a nice dress or the money to have a celebration with delicious food and maybe some music.
My online student decided that she was going to bake a lot of cookies with her family and sell them to family and friends and keep doing so until she had raised a few thousand dollars. She spent many weekends baking cookies and selling them to family and friends and word spread about this project on Facebook and Instagram and Tik Tok. Not only did the people buy these cookies because they represented a fantastic cause, but they were actually delicious cookies as well so it was a win-win. My student got so much from the satisfaction knowing that the thousands of dollars that she and her family raised enabled a few girls in Israel to have a lovely bat mitzvah celebration. And my student communicated with these girls and they exchanged emails, phone calls, zooms and pictures. How incredible it was for my student and her family to see pictures and videos from these Israeli girls bat mitzvah being able to celebrate. I am so thrilled that my student learned through her online bat mitzvah lessons with me, her Jewish education, that it’s not just about the singing performance from the holy Torah, it’s also about looking for opportunities to spread kindness and goodness and share resources with the less fortunate. I know that I will never look at a chocolate chip cookie the same way again knowing that they impacted the lives of these girls so profoundly. Have you done something similar? Have you ever made some food and distributed it to the hungry or perhaps sold the food you made and given the proceeds to a worthy cause?