BAR/BAT MITZVAH TZEDAKAH PROJECTS FOR STUDENTS AND FAMILIES
What are you good at? What do you love to do? What do you see in the world, that you want to help fix or make better? How can you use your talents and energy to do this? Answering these questions will help you pick a Tzedakah project! But here are some ideas to get you started.
“Whoever saves a single life is as if one saves the entire world.” -Talmud
Pet sit or make gourmet dog treats; a great website is getrecipe.com/DogRecipes! Sell them
and donate the money to the Israel Guide Dog Center for the Blind - firstname.lastname@example.org,
MSPCA or Buddy Dog. Or collect old towels and donate them to your local animal hospital or kennel. Sterling Animal Shelter, a nearby No Kill shelter’s website is www.sterlingshelter.org.
Heifer International www.heifer.org helps impoverished families acquire and raise animals,
and then pass on the gift of their acquired skills and offspring to neighbors in need.
Donate a portion of the babysitting money you make during your Bar/Bat Mitzvah year to a cause you are passionate about…or purchase something with your proceeds to further the cause. Donate the money to the scholarship fund for a summer camp or school program.
Repair or clean the home of someone no longer able to do it for him/herself. Volunteer to do this for someone on a regular basis; sometimes your neighbor or relative may simply enjoy a visit!
Interview an elderly relative in your family about his or her life story. If possible, collect photos or memorabilia to create a memoir.
Contact the Department of Natural Resources in your town and join a supervised group participating in cleanup days or trail clearing project.
Protecting Endangered Species Locally.
Bryan Windmiller, a Concord area wildlife biologist and ember of KS, is involved with programs that seek to protect locally endangered or declining turtles, salamanders, and frogs in Concord and adjacent towns. Bryan was accompanied at Mitzvah by rare Blanding's turtles and amphibians from local vernal pools. Participants in this Mitzvah Day project learned about the natural history of these species, were able to touch and draw them if they wished, and also learned about opportunities for both children and adults to participate in hands-on local conservation projects that might include: radio-tracking rare turtles to find their nesting sites, helping raise hatchling turtles to "head-start" them in life, or trapping and counting rare salamanders in local vernal pools (small ponds). Bat or Bar Mitzvah students
who love animals are particularly welcome to work with Bryan and his partners, including: Zoo New England, the Town of Concord, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and the Concord Land Conservation Trust, on hands-on wildlife conservation projects as part or all of their 18 hours of tzedakah work.
Tutor at school for free, or put the money earned towards the purchase of requested books for Maynard’s Green Meadow School (our sister school through the Jewish Coalition for Literacy, where adults read to kids for an hour a week; Carol Barron is KS’s volunteer coordinator) or KS school’s library
Become Mitzvah clowns and visit hospitals and nursing homes – www.mitzvahclowns.com
Donate new caps to children and adults who have lost their hair because of cancer treatments (hatsoffforcancer.org) You could even decorate them yourself, or invite friends to join you; create a ―signature‖ design.
For an assisted living facility or nursing home, buy an aquarium or birds (www.secondwind.org) and commit to visiting regularly to maintain and take care of them.
Help purchase Chumashim (books of Torah) for our Shabbat morning services, or help purchase large print Chumashim/texts of Torah and Haftarot for KS for the visually impaired.
Volunteer at the synagogue (office work, babysitting, teen aide)
Take friends to assisted living facilities, nursing homes and shelters to give ―Mitzvah Manicures‖ or arrange for deluxe visits to a hairdresser for women in shelters.
One Bar Mitzvah from Florida got his school system to donate all the leftover food from their cafeterias to food redistribution organizations. Then he got the entire state of Florida to adopt the practice! He is now a college student at the University of Florida, and more than 1 million pounds of food have been donated!
Organize a program that provides rides for those who can no longer drive.
“The Nature Connection/ Bringing Nature, Animals and the Arts to People,‖ based in Concord, needs volunteer help from kids and adults. KS member Jude Aronstein is the program coordinator. Go to www.aai-nature.org for more info.
HGRM (Household Goods Recycling of Massachusetts) in Acton needs volunteer help
and household goods for families in need. Debbie Dormitzer is KS’s youth coordinator; Naomi Rosenfeld is our adult volunteer coordinator. KS members volunteer at HGRM from rd1:00-4:00 PM the 3 Sunday of every month. Go to www.hgrm.org for the list of urgently
Yad LaKashish is a non-profit artists’ collaborative in Jerusalem that provides work opportunities,
economic and social services and caring community for 250 elderly and disabled artisans who make exquisite Judaica, jewelry and crafts that are sold around the world. To see samples of the
artsisans’ work and for more on how you can help and how to donate, go to their website for more info: www.lifeline.org.il . Click on B’nei Mitzvahs and then on “click here to download our B’nei Mitzvah Kit” – to see great mitzvah project ideas for your simcha.
Open Table Food Pantry. Open Table accepts donations of non-perishable food and
money. Please contact KS members Marilyn Hughes, or Joannie and Peter Hilton if you are interested in sponsoring a food drive or getting involved in the weekly dinners. On MITZVAH
DAY a group of KS kids and adults prepared dinner for 60 people for Open Table pantry in thMaynard. Several KS members served the dinner on Monday, Oct 27. On Christmas, KS
hosts the Open Table dinner every year. Contact Peter H. to help with holiday dinners.
Concord Park Assisted Living. Kerem Shalom sponsors monthly Kabbalat Shabbat
services, on Fridays from 3:30-4:30 PM (includes oneg Shabbat). Come as a family or as an individual. A KS member will be leading services; you can learn and visit with the residents.
Please contact Nancy Kaplan or look in The Grapevine for service times. Or, you can bring
your instrument—or use the piano in Concord Park’s lobby—to play for the residents.
Another idea: If you want a longer-term project, the residents would love someone to commit to visiting on a regular basis, to play cards or checkers, or just have conversation. This is for parents and children to do together. To volunteer to visit Concord Park on a long-term basis,
you will be interviewed and matched to elders by a volunteer coordinator from Volunteers of America. Contact them to set up an appointment at 617-522-8086.
Somerville Homeless Coalition. SHC operates an adult shelter, a family shelter, a food
pantry, community suppers, a case management program and several new initiatives related to housing. KS member Mark Alston-Follansbee is the Executive Director. The Coalition is always looking for donations of non-perishable food donations. They also gladly accept monetary donations, clothing, school supplies, new hygiene items – please call them if you
have a creative idea you would like to propose for a collection. The first Sunday of October
they have an annual road race/fundraiser and they welcome volunteer support for several tasks throughout the day. Please contact them in advance if you would like to participate in this heartwarming and fun fundraising event. Somerville Homeless Coalition, Box 440436,
Somerville, MA 02144, online at somervillehomelesscoalition.org.
Young Entrepreneurs Alliance. Julie Nessen and her father Robert Nessen created YEA,
the Young Entrepreneurs Alliance. YEA is a non-profit company dedicated to supporting teens at risk for criminal behavior, and helping them turn their lives around through business ownership, job training, financial education and academic support. They work with teens to build the skills they will need to attain long-term economic independence. YEA’s core idea is to use business
ownership and operating experience as training, education and empowerment for these teens. They develop business skills, and learn about business values and culture which will provide them with positive direction in the world of work. Look at their website, yeaworks.org to learn about their good
work. Donations are welcome online or by mail to: Young Entrepreneurs Alliance, P.O. Box 190977, Roxbury, MA 02119. All of this is in keeping with Maimonides’ highest
level of Tzedakah: Teaching a skill so that a person can sustain and support him/herself.
Concord Council on Aging Volunteer Program. Elders can use help with fall or spring
cleaning, yard work, weekly grocery shopping, etc. Families can participate, but adults over 18 must be CORI’d. For more information, please contact Ellen Sathe at 978-318-3020, email@example.com . We are putting together DREAM TEAMS of families willing
to do spring cleaning and other chores for seniors requesting help. Look for Sign-up boards in the lobby at KS in March.
Perkins School for the Blind. Perkins School for the Blind is located in Watertown and always needs help inventorying tapes. They are open weekdays until 5 pm, but have weekend opportunities as well. To learn about ongoing volunteer needs, go to Volunteers@Perkins.org or call 617-972-7224.
COLLECTIONS. If you want to start a collection, for any of the organizations listed below or for one of your choosing, we will accommodate your collection box in the lobby on
Mitzvah Day and at our book fairs. You can put a sign on the box to advertise what your
cause is about, to educate and enlist the help of our KS membership.
Collect discarded cell phones for Domestic Violence Advocates Program. The cell phones
you collect can be dropped off at all local police stations. They will re-program the phones to be able to dial 9-1-1, and will donate them to shelters for abuse victims. Kol Isha (―Voice of a
Woman‖), the domestic violence program of JF&CS, also welcomes donated phones. For more info go to http://www.jfcsboston.org/fcs/kol-isha.cfm or call 781-647-5327.
Collect videos/ DVDs for hospitals, for patients to borrow or take home (While many hospitals will not accept stuffed animals, they will accept videos.). If you don’t want to collect
videos, you could ask for donations to buy them. Hospitals particularly like videos for children (Disney- type) or elders (Lawrence Welk Show, I Love Lucy, Humphrey Bogart,
Gene Kelly, Fred Astaire movies.) These could also be donated to a nursing home or assisted living facility.
Collect gently used childrens’ books for Green Meadow School in Maynard – our partner
school through the Jewish Coalition for Literacy. Or for Childworks at Rosie’s Place or a
pediatric ward in a hospital. Collect adult books for Concord Prison Outreach. Larry Frey is
Kerem Shalom’s liaison with Prison Outreach.
Metrowest Harvest. Metrowest Harvest serves homeless families in the Framingham area. There are several ways to help this organization (Kerem Shalom collects coats for them at our Mitzvah Day winter outerwear drive.). First, you could donate food leftover after your Bar/Bat Mitzvah. Ask a family friend to deliver it to them, and then Metrowest will distribute it to the hungry. You could also donate clothes, toys, school supplies, personal care items/toiletries and money! They especially need warm clothes and footwear, as many of the children they serve live in motels and shelters on Route 9 and have to wait out on the highway for the school bus. They could also use pj’s, slippers and flannel anything, since
these shelters are usually cool. The contact person is Jeen Kniveton, 300 Howard St, Framingham MA 01720, 508-788-FOOD (3663) or fax: 508-620-2304.
SUPPORT the Fair Trade Federation and help alleviate poverty with sales of Fair Trade
items, like www.beadforlife.org. BeadforLife eradicates extreme poverty by creating bridges of understanding between impoverished Africans and concerned world citizens. Ugandan
women turn colorful recycled paper into beautiful bead jewelry. All net profits from BeadforLife are invested in community development projects that help people work their way
out of poverty. For more ideas go to www.fairtradefederation.org.
PROGRAMS AT ROSIE’S PLACE. Contact for donations: Sheila Aliber, 781-444-1755
“Hygiene bags” for Childworks of Rosie’s Place
During school vacation the children in shelters have scheduled activities, field trips, entertainment and a Hygiene Day. On Hygiene Day, nurses come in to teach the importance of good hygiene for good health, bringing donated kits containing toothbrush, toothpaste, soap, etc. On your Bat/Bar Mitzvah, you could collect these items, and ask your guests to help wrap them in simple plain gift bags or clear plastic bags with a ribbon. These are gifts for the children, and the kids will compare so do not make some more special than others –
you might want to specify which brands and sizes of toothpaste, soap, etc. your guests should bring.
“Breakfast for Learning” packs for ESL women of Rosie’s Place
; Three mornings a week about 50 women from Rosie’s learn English as a second
language together. Having a good meal before class helps their learning. They would
like to have small cereal boxes, small juice boxes (not sugared drinks), and breakfast
bars. If you would like to donate money, Rosie’s Place will use it to buy perishable
items like yogurt and fruit.
AT YOUR BAR/BAT MITZVAH:
Mitzvah-to-Mitzvah Project at the Jewish Family and Children’s Service. Please contact
them at 617-558-1278 for information about their many projects to help children have B’nai Mitzvah, children who could not otherwise afford one. These projects include ―Rent a Mitzvah Basket‖ program (KS’s B’nai Mitzvah class of 2005-6 donated a beautiful Mitzvah
basket) – for a donation of $180 –(in today’s economic climate any donation you can afford
will be accepted. JF&CS will match your donation- they need the funds) you can display this
arrangement in front of the bimah and help a needy Bar/Bat Mitzvah family pay for tutoring or a Kiddush luncheon.
MAYAWORKS KIPPOT – If you are purchasing kippot (yarmulkas) for your simcha:
MayaWorks kippot are crocheted by Mayan women who live
in San Marcos, Guatemala, on the shores of Lake Atitlan.
The work of the kippot crocheters makes a difference in the
daily life of families: it means more food on the table; it
means children can continue their education; it means the
family might be able to bring electricity into their home; it
means there is money to take the bus to town to visit a
HOW DO YOU CONVEY YOUR MITZVAH PROJECT TO YOUR GUESTS? Enclose it as
an attachment with your invitation, or even print it on the invitation itself. Let people know what your project is, and what you would like them to bring, or to which charity (or charities) you would like donations to go.
YOU COULD ALSO MAKE YOUR MITZVAH PROJECT PART OF THE TABLE
DECORATIONS AT YOUR PARTY. Instead of flowers as centerpieces, please consider:
; baskets of food for a pantry
; pet treats for a pet shelter
; videos for a hospital ward
; baseball caps for ―Hats off for Cancer‖ –hatsofforcancer.org
; ―Hygiene bags‖ for Childworks of Rosie’s Place
; ―Breakfast for Learning‖ packs for ESL women of Rosie’s Craft Cooperative
; Baskets with underwear, socks, slippers, mittens, or sweaters for Metrowest Harvest
; Baskets with baby food, special baby formula, diapers, food in general (for
families/children who cannot afford it), children’s vitamins, and warm clothes or hats
for Boston’s Grow Clinic. (At Mitzvah Day we sew hats for the Grow Clinic every year).
The Grow Clinic helps children who are not growing according to national standards.
WOULD YOU LIKE SOME MORE IDEAS?
www.nacoej.org – North American Conference on Ethiopian Jewry. Help support the Ethiopian Jewish community. Learn more about their B’nei Mitzvah Twinning program, Food and Education, and Lunch Program. Beautiful Ethiopian Embroideries made by Ethiopian Jews are also available for sale on their website. Click on ―Ethiopian Embroideries‖ on the
Consider “twinning” on your Bar/ Bat Mitzvah with:
1. a child who was lost in the Shoah, the Holocaust, before he or she could
be called to the Torah. http://www.remember-us.org has biographies of
children, which the Bar/Bat Mitzvah can include in his/her speech to the
2. an Ethiopian Jewish child in Israel (go to www.nacoej.org).
3. a non-Jewish person who risked his or her life to save Jews during the
Holocaust (The Jewish Foundation for the Righteous, www.jfr.org)
Are YOU involved in a project that we’ve not included on this list?
Please share your ideas! Contact our Family Educator, Nancy Kaplan.
You’ve looked at this list, and still need help deciding? Come talk with Nancy or Pat to brainstorm project ideas & help you come up with a project suited to your skills and passions.