As our Temple Emanu-El kids are in the final stages of preparing for their bat/bar mitzvah, we ask that they do a ‘mitzvah project’ as part of their intentional preparation. In part, this is our evolved Jewish civilization’s training of our soon-to-be adults in how to organize, gather community, and give back to the world in a meaningful way. It is our way of helping them develop the mindset, and the confidence, to lead themselves (and us) by doing real good. If nothing else, these ‘mitzvah projects’ allow them the pride of doing a great good (as a teen), but often, their initiatives set patterns for them as Jews that last a lifetime.
We try to cater the projects to their own interests, and strengths, and skills. My oldest son, Mac, did a swim-a-thon to raise money for Save A Child’s Heart; and in doing so ensured that kids from all over the world would have life saving heart surgeries in Israel.
My younger son, Moses, had a foul-shot-a-thon, raising money for underprivileged kids to go to basketball camp through the Cleveland Cavaliers.
Some kids have clothing drives, others sell lemonade…and each one for a cause that is important to them.
This week, one of my students training for her bat mitzvah, approached me to buy a bracelet that she had made to support cancer research. She was shy about it. When she asked, I thanked her. And I meant it. For allowing me to do a mitzvah. I relayed to her that Judaism considers her efforts a tremendous source of good, and that she was doing me a favor by asking.
We all have chances to bring good into this world, using our talents and strengths, our time and our resources. May we each look for opportunities to bring about tikkun olam, bringing the world from sickness to healing, with God as our partner.
Even if it is one foul shot at a time…