Recently, Yeshivat Noam hosted a Virtual Bnei Mitzvah Chesed Fair organized by Areyvut, a non-profit organization dedicated to the core Jewish values of chesed, tzedaka and tikkun olam. The Virtual Chesed Fair offered fifth-grade girls, sixth-grade boys and their parents a safe, engaging and fun way to meet with representatives from a variety of local and Israel-based organizations and learn how they can actively make an impact on their community, Klal Yisrael and humanity.
The fair, held each February, provided an opportunity for upcoming bar and bat mitzvah celebrants to learn how to facilitate meaningful bnai mitzvah projects and to ignite a passion for communal involvement and leadership. For Tova Gerson, a parent, early childhood educator and communal leader, the highlight of the program was when Daniel Rothner, Areyvut’s founder and director “started off the evening with a kind of chesed improv where students shared their hobbies, interests and talents and Daniel brainstormed ways to apply those to a chesed or mitzvah project.” Eitan Baron, a sixth-grade student, remarked that he “learned about a lot of different chesed opportunities and left inspired to actively do more chesed.” To Michele Major, an entrepreneur, noted educator and veteran Noam parent, “The Areyvut-Yeshivat Noam Chesed Fair was an amazing opportunity to show students how they can begin to get involved in different organizations and opportunities. Presenters were inspiring students to find a meaningful opportunity, become involved and make a positive impact on the community.”
The organizations that presented at the Fair included Areyvut, Bergen Volunteers, Billy’s BASEballs, Boys Town Jerusalem, Breaking the Chain Through Education, Chai Lifeline, Game Changers New York, Hebrew Free Burial Association, Jewish Family & Children’s Services of Northern NJ, Jewish Home at Rockleigh, Jordan River Village, Leket Israel, Ohel Children’s Home and Family Services, Sharsheret, The Jewish Youth Climate Movement and Yachad.
Kaila Lasky, coordinator of volunteer services at Ohel Children’s Home and Family Services, commented that “participating in the fair was an exhilarating experience. The Zoom room was packed with enthusiastic students and parents excited to learn about mitzvah opportunities.” Rabbi Ezra Berenholz, director of development at Boys Town Jerusalem, left inspired by the passion. Rabbi Berenholz said that he met “so many wonderful students and parents. It was great to speak to them and hear their excitement in choosing a volunteer mitzvah project” and he looks forward to hosting them at Boys Town Jerusalem in the near future.