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Charitable Gift for Bat/Bar Mitzvah
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
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:
If you call the Beth El office, they can probably give you the additional
names & contacts: 848-3988
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.
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.
Our daughter took a portion of the gift money that she received and donated it
Mazon, a Jewish (but not discriminatory) charity dealing with hunger. She
donated another portion to the American Foundation to AIDS Research. We
good that she made these choices. Making similar choices as Bat and Bar
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.
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.
Ethiopian Jews are in desperate need for assistance both in Israel and in
There is an organization in New York which arranges for Bar/Bat Mitzvah
such children, as well as assistance in the form of food, etc.
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:
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
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.
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.
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
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
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.
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