Nati Fischman, a 12-year-old from Teaneck, will celebrate his Hebrew birthday on 20 Kislev, which corresponds to November 24. Nati is in the seventh grade in Yeshivat Noam and his bar mitzvah date is November 25. In preparation for his bar mitzvah, Nati wanted to do something meaningful.
Ever since Nati was a young boy, he has loved to read; his passion for reading stems from his three older sisters who are avid readers. Nati knew he wanted his bar mitzvah project to revolve around one of the things he loves the most: books. He decided to collect a wide range of books for Hackensack Meridian Children’s Health at Joseph M. Sanzari Children’s Hospital.
Nati would like to be able to deliver books to more hospitals; however, at the moment, Hackensack is the only hospital nearby that will be set up to receive these donations. Nati and his parents have spread the word to their family and friends and posted on social media outlets such as Facebook, sent links from Amazon and Barnes & Noble to give people an idea of what to donate, and put up messages on different neighbors’ WhatsApp groups.
The pediatric ward in Hackensack Hospital services male and female patients from newborns to teenagers. The books that Nati is collecting range from ABC and 1-2-3 books to young adult books such as graphic novels, fiction, non-fiction, mystery, sci-fi, etc. The goal is to try and create an escape for children undergoing medical treatments. All books need to be new or unused due to the patients’ fragile immune systems.
“It is so beautiful to see Nati’s face light up when he opens the packages of books that he knows are not even for him. The joy and thrill of seeing his excitement over this project is amazing,” explained Aliza Fischman, Nati’s mother.
Originally, Nati had the idea to create a mini library outside of his house, which did not work out due to its location. This was the springboard for Nati’s new and improved bar mitzvah project, where people can leave new books in a bin on his doorstep. Nati’s grandmother loved the idea of doing a project involving stories and so did Nati’s mother.
Donating books to Hackensack Hospital hits especially close to home with Nati, because over the years, members of his family have had multiple hospitalizations. Nati’s father spent some time in Hackensack Hospital. After what Hackensack did for the family, especially Nati’s father, the Fischmans feel grateful for having the opportunity to give back. The week after the bar mitzvah, Nati and his family will go and make the first delivery to the hospital. If there are too many books, they will store the extras in an air-tight container and deliver them in a few months. Nati’s mother said “this will spread cheer and bring comfort to so many kids.”
As of November 16, approximately 100 books had been bought and donated—even after only having advertised the project the previous week.
Nati explained that his project has “exceeded [his] expectations by how many books [he has] received in such a short amount of time, even though [he] did not set a specific goal.”
Nati’s father mentioned how he “loves that Nati is leveraging what he loves into a mitzvah and doing as much as he can with it.”
Together, Nati’s parents are “incredibly proud of him on many levels.”
To order or donate, visit tinyurl.com/MitzvahBooks
By Julianne Yvette Katz