funny thing about gift receiving is that it is so much fun, and makes the
givers as well as the recipient feel good. The idea of a soon to be thirteen
year-old deciding to forgo many of his Bar Mitzvah gifts and the pleasure
of simply getting gifts, unwrapping them and just plain having them, is somewhat
more complex than an adult suggesting that in lieu of gifts, friends make
a donation to their favorite charity.
Just as we expect a child approaching
Bar or Bat Mitzvah to undertake a process of meaningful study to approach
this auspicious event, so to do we expect to acknowledge the child's efforts
by listening to what the child has prepared, giving praise and giving a gift.
In searching for an appropriate mitzvah
to do in honor of his Bar Mitzvah, Benjamin discovered that he was a little
wary of speaking to people who were not close friends or family. Many of
the mitzvah concepts were very much hands-on, up-close projects, from which
Benjamin shied away.
When he arrived home one day, frustrated
because he could not do a research project at the school library due to the
lack of information available Benjamin saw where he wanted to channel his
As part of my
becoming a Bar Mitzvah, I have decided to help revive the student libary
on the AMIT campus
at Kfar Batya.
I go to the
Yeshivat AMIT, on the Kfar Batya campus. Approximately 1,600 kids learn
on the campus, yet the library has no budget for the purchase of new books.
For most of the students, it is the only library to which we have access for
research and casual reading.
In honor of
my becoming a Bar Mitzvah, I would like to ask you to make a contribution
to AMIT for the "AMIT Kfar Batya Bar Mitzvah Library Fund". Donations can
be mailed to the AMIT office -- 8 Alkalai Street, 92224 Jerusalem.
Thanks so much
for your help with this. See you soon,
And so was conceived and born, Benjamin's
In theory and on paper, it appeared
to be an easy mitzvah to accomplish. Ben simply had to include a letter
in each of his invitations, and the mitzvah would be accomplished.
In reality, Benjamin learned that giving
must come from the heart. Together, we decided that in order for the library
to grow as significantly as possible, it was important that guests be able
to write a check directly to the fund so that they could receive a tax deduction.
This we reasoned would enable the fund to raise more money. When Ben, comprehended
that many of what he envisioned as split gifts were going solely to AMIT,
he was not upset, but let's be honest, a little disappointed. We, his parents,
feeling bad for him, that he might have offered more than he was prepared,
pledged to Ben at that point that we would "make-up" some of his gifts to
him. He was fine with that.
The mitzvah has taught Ben an
important lesson: that he can make a difference. Just the other day, he ran
over beaming with pride and shouted: "Look at what I was able to raise from
a few people. This is only the beginning."
Text by M. Kaplan-Green.