There is no better way to celebrate the coming of age than with friends and family and doing chesed at the same time! My son Louis Weber hosted a Football for Chesed event in honor of his bar mitzvah, at City Sports in Englewood last Monday night. Louis collected donations that went to Camp Moshava’s Scholarship Fund to sponsor children from the Bet Elazraki home in Netanya, Israel, to come to Camp Moshava this summer.
“The energy was incredible. It was so great to see all these seventh grade boys getting along so well and having such a good time for a wonderful cause,” said Sandy Yahalom, my long-time best friend.
Camp Moshava is very near and dear to our hearts as this is where my husband, Daniel, and I met in 1997 while we were both working as staff members post high school. Also, Louis has been a camper at Moshava for the past five summers. “I enjoy going every summer to camp and it’s always fun, now it’s really nice that kids from Bet Elazraki will have fun at camp this summer,” said Louis.
Camp Moshava, a Religious Zionist camp sponsored by Bnei Akiva of the U.S. and Canada, has always offered a warm and nurturing environment, where campers develop a better appreciation for the beauty and values of the Jewish Orthodox tradition. Camp Moshava encourages independence, social skills, leadership and team building. To Louis, Camp Moshava feels like his second home, and Alan Silverman, Camp Moshava director, describes Louis as “the ultimate camper.”
The Bet Elazraki Children’s Home was founded in 1969, and provides a warm home and loving family for children ages 5 through 18, whose parents are unable to care for them. These children have suffered terrible traumatic experiences. At Bet Elazraki, they work with the children to overcome their past fears, help them move forward and build a brighter future.
This past October, we had the privilege of visiting Bet Elazraki in Israel while attending our friends’ daughter, Shira Siegler’s, bat mitzvah. Louis had a chance to meet many of the children and dance and interact as we celebrated in their sukkah. Being able to bring these two special communities, Camp Moshava and Bet Elazraki, together was Louis’s goal.
“We are honored that Louis chose Camp Moshava and Bnei Akiva together with Bet Elazraki as the recipient of his chesed project,” Silverman said.
All of Louis’s friends participated in a round-robin football tournament, each game was five minutes and every team got a chance to play each other. “I love playing football, and I have fun doing it, it’s my favorite sport,” said Louis. Louis made the teams and schedule of games, rounds one through four. He wanted the teams to be fair so everyone had fun playing. Daniel Weber, Louis’s dad, and family friend Ed Markovich were the referees of the tournament.
“He did it all himself, I didn’t even look at the teams or schedule until we got to City Sports that evening, he did a great job, as always I am so proud and impressed by Louis,” said Daniel Weber.
If you ask any boy about that night, they all unanimously agree they had a blast. “My favorite part was how everyone played so well as a team and watching Louis win,” said Jonathan Weiss, one of Louis’s best friends since they were 2. All of Louis’s friends from school attended, and many of his camp friends who live in the tri-state area also came out.
“It was great to see all the boys come together in a spirit of healthy competition and for a good cause, and it was a pleasure to ref and coach them,” said Ed Markovich.
“Louis is the best brother ever, and I love being his younger brother. I had so much fun playing football with everyone,” said Jeremy Weber.
My mother, Loree Cohen, Louis’s grandmother, told me “how proud the family is of Louis, and that watching him grow from a baby to toddler to bar mitzvah boy brings so much joy to the whole family.”
In addition, Camp Moshava representative and teacher at the Rae Kushner Yeshiva High School, Rabbi David Schlusselberg, attended the event and I would like to summarize a few powerful words that he shared with the boys that evening.
Rabbi Schlusselberg explained that the idea of materialism and expensive possessions do not hold a strong significance in our lives and service to Hashem. In fact, “Rabbi Yisrael Meir Kagan, the Chofetz Chaim, used to remark on his lack of possessions in his house by saying that he is like a person who is passing through a town who doesn’t have many possessions; we Jews are simply passing through this world en route to our main destination—olam habba,” said Rabbi Schlusselberg.
Looking at the last few parshiyos in Sefer Shemos, we learn about the building of the Mishkan and the magnificent colorful wool materials and gold and silver that went into making the Mishkan beautiful. Rabbi Schlusselberg addresses the question “Why does Hashem command us to build the Mishkan out of the finest materials on earth?” He went on to explain, “The answer lies not as much in what a person has, but how a person uses what they have. A person can take the most physical item and uplift it as part of their service to Hashem. The gold and silver used for constructing the Mishkan were exactly that—physical, materialistic items which were used in the service of Hashem.” Rabbi Schlusselberg went on to say, “Every child who played football wasn’t just playing football, rather, they were doing an act of chesed.”
I want to thank all our family and friends for being such an integral part of our lives, always. Thank you to all the seventh graders, such a great group of boys, with wonderful parents. A special thanks to Ed and Yaffa Markovich for assisting us in preparing for the football event and Ed for being a great referee!
If you would like to donate to Louis’s chesed, please go to moshava.org and click on Donate to Moshava. You can dedicate the donation to “Louis Weber’s Bar Mitzvah Chesed” and your donation will be given to Camp Moshava’s Scholarship Fund specifically for the Bet Elazraki children.
Kol hakavod, Louis. I love you and I am so proud of you! Mazel Tov. Keep up the good work.
By Kellita Weber