July 15, 2024
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Sisters’ Purim Sticker Project Helps Children’s Home in Netanya

Simchas Purim takes many forms including, of late, customized mishloach manot replete with themed snacks and pictures of families in related costumes. But how to package such gifts?

This was the problem that Sophia Stein, a seventh grader at Ben Porat Yosef in Paramus, decided to solve as part of her bat mitzvah chesed project. Sophia set up an Instagram account called @CustomStickersbySophia a few weeks before Purim in 2022. She was overwhelmed with the response — receiving dozens of unique orders for custom Purim stickers, with different designs and themes. The best part — all of the proceeds went directly to the Bet Elazraki Children’s Home in Netanya, Israel.

Bet Elzaraki is a home for Israeli children whose parents are unwilling or unfit to care for them. The children are removed from dysfunctional family environments and oftentimes life-threatening situations. Children arrive as newborns, infants, toddlers, school age, and sometimes even in their teens. The goal of Bet Elazraki is for each child to reach their potential and to break the cycle of distress in the next generation. Bet Elazraki’s founder and director Yehuda Kohn is known to say that any child who walks through the doors of Bet Elazraki has found a home for life. “We are committed to our children, always.”

It was not by chance that Sophia chose Bet Elazraki to receive the proceeds from her custom stickers. Through Bet Elazraki’s bar/bat mitzvah program, Sophia was able to celebrate her bat mitzvah with five other 12-year-olds living at the home. Sophia had already met these bnot mitzvah the previous year when she visited the home for Shabbat as part of Englewood’s East Hill Synagogue Mother-Daughter Mission, led by Rebbetzin Chana Reichman.

“It’s an incredible place to visit, because the kids have been brought from the most horrible of circumstances, and the home is just filled with the most dedicated and inspiring people doing Chesed all day, everyday, and with unending love. The kids are so fun to be with, so kind, and so incredibly happy! You have no choice but to dance and sing with them and fall in love with them yourself. It shifts your perspective on what’s really important,” explained Shlomit Stein, Sophia’s mother.

During the mission, Sophia decided that she wanted to return to celebrate her bat mitzvah together with her new friends at Bet Elazraki. Sophia explained, “Bet Elazraki just feels like family. The director Yehdah Kohn is like a father to everyone. When you visit there, you feel like you’re part of one big Jewish family and like you’ve known everybody for years and years. It’s such a comfortable and nice feeling. It’s so happy there.”

Upon returning home to Englewood after the mission, Sophia decided she wanted to do more to help the children at Bet Elazraki, so she launched her custom sticker service. Donors submitted requests on Instagram, and Sophia was able to design stickers that matched the Purim costumes and mishloach manot themes. With the help of her younger sister Kayla, she found images online and experimented with fonts, colors and sizing. She sent out draft designs for approval through Instagram, printed out test stickers, and then mass printed the orders to meet everyone’s needs. The sisters then packaged, labeled,and delivered the orders to their friends and neighbors in Englewood, Teaneck and Bergenfield.

After Purim 2022, Sophia filled additional sticker orders from her local friends who needed custom stickers on packaging for their own bat mitzvah Chesed projects. These included Rosie Moche’s Straws4Shalva custom water bottle project for Shalva; Sadie Kestenbaum’s Beut4Bet cosmetics project for Bet Elazraki; and Anabelle Lichtman’s SmileThruIt cookie project for Hackensack Children’s Hospital, in loving memory of her cousin Evan Levy, z”l.

And then, just a few weeks ago, last year’s Purim sticker customers started leaving messages on the CustomStickersBySophia Instagram account asking Sophia if she would once again be offering custom stickers for Purim. Because Kayla, a fifth grader at Yavneh Academy in Paramus, will be celebrating her bat mitzvah in December, the sisters renamed the account @CustomStickersByKayla and continued the endeavor, adding even more customers for Purim 2023 and coming up with new designs. “I was really glad Kayla wanted to take over the project for her bat mitzvah,” Sophia said, “and it was so much fun teaching her the design software and helping her out with the tough requests.”

During Purim, the two sisters were able to see their sticker designs on mishloach manot packages all over town. “It made me so happy to see our stickers on so many mishloach manot, because I know it’s helping the children at Bet Elazraki and also making Purim more fun for our friends,” Kayla said. Kayla and Sophia were also able to watch videos of their friends at Bet Elazraki celebrating Purim. Throughout Netanya, the children of the home are known to have the most creative and over-the-top costumes, and Purim is an especially fun time at the home.

Sophia’s family has a long history with Bet Elazraki. Sophia’s aunt, Tali Pines, was among the first wave of North Americans to spend a summer there as a counselor, even before there was any official program for counselors, over 20 years ago. Tali has remained very involved with Bet Elazraki, introducing her family and friends to the home, throwing parties and holding fundraisers in her own home, and bringing her extended family to visit there every time they travel to Israel. In the fall, Sophia’s oldest sister and graduating Frisch Yeshiva High School senior Eliana Stein will be spending her gap year at Midreshet Torah V’Chesed (MTC), Bet Elazraki’s seminary program, learning in the mornings and spending afternoons engaged in activities with the children of Bet Elazraki.

“The sticker project was a creative and fun way to raise money and awareness for a very good cause. Many community members have reached out and thanked the girls for making their Purim more joyful,” said Shlomit Stein. For those interested in learning more about Bet Elazraki, visit http://elazraki.org/ or on Instagram @betelazaraki. To learn more about bar/bat mitzvah projects and events or to support Bet Elazraki, you can contact the Director of U.S. Communications Sarah Struhl Packer at [email protected]. Check out Kayla Steins’s Instagram page @CustomStickersByKayla to see the assortment of custom stickers. To donate to Bet Elazraki for Kayla’s Bat Mitzvah project, visit https://rootfunding.com/campaigns/stein-bm?fbclid=PAAaaDWY1DUtoCyaroWoxkYnxux_xZOVm2Grm2clxaUuMTvpnHB0zCcK69jDs

By Jewish Link Staff

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