The Rutner family of West Orange traveled
to Israel in June in honor of their son and brother Jacob’s bar mitzvah. Jacob is one of five Rutner children, and was joined by four of his siblings and his parents on his tikkun olam venture. After traveling to Israel during Pesach, Jacob received tefillin and enjoyed the holiday in the Jewish state, but felt he wanted to “do more” for his bar mitzvah, which is what prompted this trip. While preparing for this visit, the Rutners looked into ways in which they could directly impact the Israeli community and its people. Their research led them to Leket Israel, the largest food bank of Israel and an organization that makes it their mission to distribute nutritious food to thousands of poor Israelis each year.
After making the necessary arrangements, the Rutner family made their way to Israel to see their favorite sites and volunteer with Leket. This was the first time that they not only participated in Leket’s efforts, but took an active initiative to volunteer in Israel, as opposed to the more traditional and less active volunteering they have previously done. After arriving at fields where Leket volunteers pick crops, the Rutners spent hours picking kohlrabi in the hot summer heat. Driven by their desire to impact the Jewish state, the family helped pick hundreds of pounds of crops that day and provide meals for numerous poor families. Upon completion of the kohlrabi picking, the Rutners were educated about where the food they just picked would go, how many families it would help and how many meals it would provide. Jacob was presented with a completion certificate and honored by the Leket team for his dedication to Israel and tikkun olam efforts surrounding his bar mitzvah.
The Rutner family described their experience as “eye opening” and something that really allowed them to appreciate what they have and so often take for granted. Jacob and his family enjoyed physically seeing the difference they were going to make for the less fortunate, while enjoying this family experience and appreciating each other. While the Rutners have traveled to Israel many times, and even have a daughter currently residing in the country, this experience was different. Jacob felt a physical connection to Israel through his work with Leket, and was able to appreciate the true meaning of being a Jewish adult on his bar mitzvah.