July 18, 2024
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Ma’ayanot Juniors Delve Into Chesed

On Monday, October 23, the junior class of Ma’ayanot travelled to Passaic to spend a day delving into community service. Throughout the day, they met and volunteered with community leaders who have launched grassroots gemachs and kiruv organizations, some of which have grown into internationally-recognized charitable organizations.

At Kehilas Bais Yosef, Rabbi Eli Gewirtz spoke about the founding of Partners in Torah, which today connects 70,000 people around the world learning Torah b’chavruta. Leah Zimmerman and Siggy Berger told their story about starting a gemach for baby equipment and clothing. Each week, the gemach receives multiple requests for cribs and strollers.

“We’re trying to ingrain in our students that chesed isn’t just about what I get out of it but how I can help another person,” said Rabbi Zev Prince, director of co-curricular programming at Ma’ayanot. “We want to impart that chesed has a meaningful impact on individuals and can even transform entire communities. You can be the one to start something new and transformative.”

In the afternoon, the students rolled up their sleeves and got to work. With their friends from the Sinai School, they sorted gently used and new clothing for Israel’s needy at Yad Leah. In 90 minutes, the girls packed 15 boxes, totalling over 900 clothing items for families in Israel. “I can’t begin to express to you how much people appreciate your efforts,” said Jessica Katz, director of Yad Leah. “Taking part in sending clothes to Israel sends a very clear message to our brothers and sisters that we care, love and support them.”

At Factory 220, a group of students helped set up for Wednesday night’s Great Big Challah Bake for an estimated 800 Jewish women. The girls met with Esther Friedman, one of the organizers, and learned about the Jewish Women’s Renaissance Project, which has sent more than 10,000 Jewish women from all backgrounds on transformational visits to Israel. “It was really inspiring to hear women speak about their trips to Israel and the ways that they’ve incorporated Judaism into their lives,” said junior Jen Felder.

A third group visited seniors at Daughters of Miriam. Junior Lauren Becker shared that she and her friends met a famous 1950s singer, Sammy Turner, who had several hits on the Billboard Hot 100. “We told him he made our day and he said we made his day!” Lauren said.

“Ultimately, we want the students to see that each of these organizations was started by a person who saw a need in the community and then stepped up to fill that need. Today there are gemachs for eyeglasses, cell phones, wedding dresses and so much more. It’s important for students to be inspired and learn that chesed begins at home,” said Rabbi Prince.

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