Teaneck—Tehila Kornwasser, a 6th grade student at RYNJ from Teaneck, recently won the regional championship of the International Bible Contest, the Chidon, for the Bergen County area, and placed 5th in the international competition in Israel, separated by just a five points from the big winners. The contest was all about Torah, Neviim and Ketuvim, and for Tehila, it was also about practicing the midot she learned while studying Torah at RYNJ.
More than the pull of winning, she was blown away when she learned about Elior Babian, a 19-year-old schizophrenic from Beit Shemesh who aced the Israeli Chidon championship. She never met him, but as newspapers around Israel and North America made clear, the Babian family has had more than its share of misfortune and they are staggering under a load of huge medical bills to treat their children for a host of medical and developmental disorders that have both parents struggling to make ends meet. So Tehila decided to take on the family as part of her bat mitzvah project, hoping to raise money for them and asking people with connections in Israel to help Elior’s parents find jobs.
In a conversation with JLBC, Tehila was asked why she was inspired to go ahead and take action on behalf of her “competition,” when most kids would not pay attention to the trials and tribulations of their peers.
She said, “My parents and my school have given me a love for Torah and chesed. When I saw how Elior mastered Chidon despite all of his challenges, I was inspired and driven to help. As someone who has recently experienced how difficult it is to compete in Chidon haTanach, I was even more impressed with his amazing accomplishment. Hearing about what he went through to achieve something I can only dream of, put everything in perspective for me.
“I have put up a website for people to donate (any amount is greatly appreciated), but people can also help by spreading the word and help find jobs for Mr. and Mrs. Babian in the Beit Shemesh area.”
Mr. Babian is looking for a job as a Hebrew Studies teacher. Sadly, just this week, Mrs. Babian, who was a certified elder caregiver, lost her job. She would like to find a job as a kindergarten teacher’s assistant. Tehila is eager to help them and asks others to join her in helping this family overcome their troubles.
And she told JLBC, “Please, please. This should not be a story about me, but rather a story about this amazing family and how we all can help them.”
You can donate to Tehila’s bat mitzvah project through a link to Tehila’s website, http://www.rootfunding.com/campaign/tehila-bat-mitzvah-project or by helping Tehila spread the word. You can also send a check to Congregation Beth Abraham and put “Tehila’s project” on the memo line. Or, if you have information about teaching jobs or teaching assistant jobs, if you have any ideas how the family can be helped medically, financially or educationally, email your leads to Tehila at tehilasbmproject_gmail.com.