Thursday, January 27, 2022

West Orange—B’nai Mitzvah children today often decide to take on a special “mitzvah project” as they approach Jewish adulthood. Some collect food for the poor or for those in war- or natural-disaster-ravaged cities or countries. Others choose to collect clothing, blankets or books. Still others organize fundraising events for a particular charity. As Hillel Glick, seventh grader at the JEC’s RTMA, approached his Bar Mitzvah, he learned of Ayala Shapiro, an 11-year-old girl living in Israel who was suffering in the aftermath of a terrible accident. Together with his fifth-grade sister, Elianna, he decided to make raising Ayala’s spirits his personal mitzvah project.

Ayala was travelling with her father, Avner, near the settlement of El Matan in the Shomron area. A molotov cocktail was hurled at their car by teenage Arab terrorists, engulfing it in flames. Ayala was left in serious condition with massive third-degree burns over her body. Avner, 40, was also wounded, suffering from light burn injuries.

When Hillel heard Ayala’s story, he decided to use some of his Bar Mitzvah money (asking his parents for an advance) to purchase an iPad for Ayala. Elianna, with the enthusiasm and support of JEC Principal Rabbi Shlomo Schwartz, arranged to have the fifth- and sixth-grade girls’ classes create cards for Ayala. Elianna’s Hebrew-language teacher, Giveret Lazar, helped all of the girls write the cards in Hebrew. Calev, Hillel and Elianna’s older brother and a senior at RTMA, assisted with some of the creative direction including the creation of a giant card signed by members of the Bar Mitzvah class.

The plan was for the Glick family to personally deliver these gifts to Ayala when celebrating Hillel’s Bar Mitzvah in Israel in January. Unfortunately, at the time, Ayala was not well enough to receive visitors. The Glicks asked their close friends Judith and Elie Pieprz to present Ayala with the iPad and cards when she was ready. Elie, who happens to also live in Ginei Shomron and is director of public relations for YESHA and National Campaign Director for iVote Israel, just presented the gifts to Ayala on April 29, together with his daughter and classmate of Ayala’s, Eliana.

While thrilled and very appreciative, Ayala said that she would always prefer to be the giver rather than the recipient. Apparently, others throughout the world have also been sending gifts, including a stuffed koala from Australia.

During her hospital stay, Ayala had to undergo multiple skin grafts, operations and hours of physical therapy. Happily, Ayala has now been discharged from the hospital, yet her fight is not over. She faces numerous operations as well as a grueling daily physical therapy regimen.

To contribute to the fund established for Ayala’s benefit, please visit https://secure.onefamilyfund.org/ayalashapiro.

By Jill Kirsch

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