There are many ways to celebrate a bas mitzvah. Some students in HALB’s sixth grade class have developed a new and unique program to make the bas mitzvah experience more meaningful for themselves and their parents. In order to refocus attention on core Jewish values, the girls came up with a number of ideas that developed into the Giveaway Pledge. First, the girls decided that to maximize impact, they would give up something in exchange for something that they felt was more meaningful. The participating girls have chosen not to give away party favors at their bas mitzvah party and, instead, the girls decided to give to others who are less fortunate. As a result, the girls are participating in numerous chesed projects throughout the year. Last, the girls would like to learn more about how to broadly change their communities. To this end, the girls are learning about philanthropy and will even create a formal board that will allocate charitable funds donated by an anonymous donor at the end of the school year.

This past week, the girls and their parents had the privilege of hearing from Mrs. Dena Fuchs, Executive Vice President at The Jewish Funders Network, and formerly at The Avi Chai Foundation. Throughout the interactive session, she discussed various ways that girls could use their time, talent, and treasure to better the community. Mrs. Fuchs provided examples of ways other teens have made a greater impact on society, really highlighting that anyone, of any age, can make a real difference. Mrs. Fuchs is a terrific role model and has real expertise in working in large foundations that materially impact the broader Jewish community. The girls clearly benefited from her experience and her presentation. Immediately following this fantastic learning opportunity, the girls prepared for their first chesed project together.

Later in the week, the girls had a beautiful night at the Premier Rehab: The girls lit Chanukah candles and played games with the residents. Most importantly, all of the activities were totally led by these sixth graders. What a great opportunity to demonstrate leadership. The girls are looking forward to their next chesed opportunity, which they are actively working on. With small steps like these, the girls are really impacting themselves, their families, and their community.