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Charitable Gift for Bat/Bar Mitzvah

Oct 2001

This year my 12 year old daughter will be attending numerous Bat and Bar Mitzvahs. In lieu of a gift for each of the kids, my husband and I would like to make a donation to a charity in their name. Does anyone have a suggestion of a worthwhile (preferably Jewish) charity or charities that we should consider, perhaps one with an emphasis on helping children less fortunate than themselves? I would appreciate any ideas! Thanks.


I have attended many Bat/Bar Mitzvahs over the past few years and I know that each Bat/Bar Mitzvah donates a portion of what they receive to a charitable organization of their choosing. (At least the 8 or so that I have known have done so which makes me assume that it is standard practice). I think it is nice for the child to have the option to choose and suggest that you give the child the money along with a note that you hope your gift is donated to the charity of their choice.
If you want to give contributions in honor of the bar/batmitzvah, consider
  • Jewish Coalition for Literacy - teaching reading: http://www.njcl.net
  • Mazon - food for the hungry: http://www.mazon.org/
  • Beth El Homeless Meal Fund - feeding homeless in Berkeley: http://uahc.org/congs/ca/ca030/meal.htm

    If you call the Beth El office, they can probably give you the additional names & contacts: 848-3988 Merry


    Suggestion for Jewish Charity. Women's ORT funds vocational training all over the world using techniques developed to resettle people in Israel. It especially works in much less developed countries such as in Africa and South America. Also I believe that they still fund projects in Israel for Ethiopians and Yemenites and people from other non-industrialized cultures. They train people in useful professions such as medical technicians or in computer skills. There are local groups here that meet to raise money and support these projects. Peggy
    I recommend the Jewish Fund for Justice (http://www.jfjustice.org), a group dedicated to combating poverty by building sustainable self-sufficency. They do small, effective grants and good work, and have a long solid track record. Well worth looking into. Wendy
    Our daughter took a portion of the gift money that she received and donated it to Mazon, a Jewish (but not discriminatory) charity dealing with hunger. She also donated another portion to the American Foundation to AIDS Research. We all felt good that she made these choices. Making similar choices as Bat and Bar Mitzvah gifts is a lovely idea I think.
    My suggestion is a very personal one. My 11 year old son passed away in May from a rare Jewish genetic disease. I am very active in fundraising to support research toward treatment and cure of the disease, known as Familial Dysautonomia. If you are looking to make a donation for a Jewish cause involving children, I can think of none more critical. The organization that is fundraising for this purpose is known as FD Hope. Their website is at http://www.fdvillage.org/

    We are grateful for funding which will help us to save lives. Michael Rancer


    The Jewish Family and Children Services the East Bay do a lot of programs for kids. They accept money as well as school supplies and books. I was at a dinner of Bnai Brith and all the centerpieces were kids' supplies headed for JFCS of the East Bay. Their phone number is (510) 704-7475 and they are located at 2484 Shattuck Ave, Berkeley. They have an office in Walnut Creek too. Dawn
    Ethiopian Jews are in desperate need for assistance both in Israel and in Africa. There is an organization in New York which arranges for Bar/Bat Mitzvah gifts for such children, as well as assistance in the form of food, etc. Kcubratsej
    It is a wonderful to encourage and facilitate charitable giving on the part of our children. The B'nai Mitzvah is an important spiritual passage that has been quite often reduced in our culture to a bonanza of gift giving and party-throwing. While those celebrations absolutely have their place, I applaud you for adding to the meaning by acts of "tzedakah" (Hebrew for justice, often translated into "charity.") So, a few quick ideas:
    1. Mazon - the Jewish response to hunger - for more information: www.mazon.org
    2. Parent's Place - a wonderful support service run by Jewish and Family and Children's Service in San Francisco, which supports Dream House, a shelter for (primarily) mother's and children escaping domestic violence. JFCS in San Francisco 415 567-8860.
    3. Jewish Literacy Project - This project is a Jewish community response to supporting kids in public elementary schools, primarily in the Richmond-Oakland corridor, with reading support. Based at the Jewish Federation of the Greater East Bay 510 839-2900, ext 272, ask for Allison.
    4. American Jewish World Service - a wonderful organization, similar to the Peace Corp, helping folks in Third World counties develop self-sufficiency. http://www.ajws.org

    I could go on and on - please feel free to contact me for additional suggestions. I can be reached at the following: Deborah Louria, Jewish Community Relations Council, 510 839-2900, ext. 211 I've been working in the Jewish community for many years and would be happy to share some additional ideas and contacts. Deborah


    I have two suggestions:

    The first is used frequently at our synagogue. The B'nai Mitzvah class establishes a charitable fund, the students vote on where the collected funds will go, and over the year as each student celebrates, well-wishers can make contributions to the fund.

    Second, why not find out from the family if there are specific funds the student is interested in. Our family has participated in the Rebuilding Together (formerly Christmas in April) projects, and both our children asked that contributions be made to similar projects. PJ


    To the parent looking for organizations for Bat/Bar Mitzvah donations. I got a catalog in the mail from an organization called Heifer International where you buy an animal, for example, a goat or a share of a goat and that goat goes to a family somewhere on the other side of the world where they raise it for the milk. The family then gives an offspring to another family in the village and that family gives a female offspring to another family and so on. I don't know anything about them other than what I've read, but my family is going to donate a share in a "knitting basket"- 2 sheep and two llamas. It is my understanding that with the gift comes training on care and feeding of the animals. http://www.heifer.org Jamie
    Mazon is an organization that deals with providing food for the hungry via grants to programs that feed or to food banks. the berkeley/richmond jewish community center provides hot lunches and other services for the elder adults in the community. there is also a preschool and afterschool program. some of the families need scholarships. Jewish Family and children's services provide a wealth of services to jewish families like counseling, domestic violence counsel, children w/ special needs parent groups, relocation assist for emigres... congregation beth el does a homeless meal once a month tehiyah day school provides scholarships for day school education. Michelle
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