OUR SON CHOOSES HIS MITZVAH PROJECT
By Dr. and Mrs. Mitzvah (aka David and Danielle Ockman “Favor It Things“)
As parents we struggle to give meaning to our children. We are always second guessing ourselves as to whether or not we have succeeded in teaching gratitude. We wonder if our children really “get it”- and if you are reading our blog, here on Mitzvah Market, you are a parent who cares about this.
Truth be told, we have to admit leaving a Bar Mitzvah Project up to our 12 year old son gave us a momentary relapse of anxiety. Will the project be meaningful to him? Will he follow through? Will he be motivated? Visions of former cookie dough sales and wrapping paper flashed before our eyes – after all he wasn’t going to win anything for this project…only pay it forward.
As any two self-respecting parents (who specialize in clinical counseling!) would do, we began to ask him questions. We asked Blake to tell us why the project was meaningful. Admittedly, it took some pushing to get him to truly reflect..and put it down on paper. This was NOT going to be a replay of those other fundraisers he’d done through the years. This was the first of many mitzvot he was promising to carry out as a Bar Mitzvah, and a real opportunity for him to grow into the man we envisioned. This was going to come from him.
Blake spoke of being grateful for having a family and for all the ways he has been provided for. He heard both of us speak of children we had met in our professional programs who were being helped and supported through the efforts of JAFCO (Jewish Adoption and Foster Care Options).
He understood that these children became a part of JAFCO’s program because they had no family or didn’t have a family who could care for them. It is a challenging conversation to explain to your young son that families cannot always care for their own children and that sometimes children are abused. These are thoughts that are beyond comprehension for children like ours. Blake took the initiative and contacted JAFCO to learn how he could help. They had many options and Blake chose to raise money to fill the Chanukkah wish lists of children in the program.
He was optimistic that he would raise enough money to fill many wish lists. Blake had written in his reflection, how grateful he was for the traditions and celebration of Chanukkah each year with our extended family. One thing he wrote was “how great it would be for the kids to know they are not forgotten at the holidays.” Danielle Swiss, an educator at the Arthur I. Meyer Jewish Academy, agreed to have her son join in on the Mitzvah Project with Blake and they have been collecting ever since.
They designed bracelets that read, “EVERY CHILD IS A GIFT” and Blake held a Valentine’s chocolate sale. To date they have collected $1200 which according to JAFCO will provide six children with their wish lists. With five months to go, they are working hard to collect more. This act of Tikkun Olam, Repairing the World has been far reaching and once again our BMBFF’s supported Blake’s project.
Using Social Media, we took to the airwaves and posted about his Mitzvah Project. Blake’s “giving back” brought out generosity and the true spirit of community, even in our Facebook Bar Mitzvah group. Parents and Vendors from our page sent checks ranging from $2 to $50, and the support was overwhelming. We want to extend our thanks to our friends who helped Blake and Brandon provide a “light” for the JAFCO children for this next holiday season. Their project set off a wave of human compassion on our Facebook page. Our very own “South Florida Bar and Bat Mitzvah Planning Group” witnessed a beautiful “pay it forward” moment when Chad Everett, owner of Galaxy Productions and nationally known producer of first rate corporate and social events, saw a post from a parent on a budget wanting inspiration for an art themed Bat Mitzvah.
Chad, was a young artist as well, so on our Facebook page announced that he wanted to create some centerpieces and décor as a gift for her daughter. The support, and “gift of giving,” is what community is all about, another life lesson for our son. Blake sees that giving, inspires others to give and really pay it forward in a meaningful way.
Make sure that your child finds inspiration, and takes ownership of his or her Mitzvah Project. Hopefully it will spark or provide a continued love for building community and repairing the world.
We are inspired by so many incredible vendors on a daily basis working their magic to make Bar and Bat Mitzvah dreams become a reality. Even the way each vendor works with the families in all budgets is amazing. We all have a vision of what we want for our child’s big day, no matter the budget. We are lucky to have some really great vendors on our dream team. Chad Everett has a few tricks up his sleeve for the celebration for Blake, adding a pop of WOW! Don’t be afraid to share your visions and dreams, you will find vendors who want to help you make it a reality.
One of us would like to give away all the details of our party before the big day, and one of us is tight lipped to keep some mystery for our guests, we won’t say who is who! We will share next time how we “built” the celebration with entertainment and who is helping us do it. We will also talk about the “sweet” touches that can be added, in our next blog, “Let them eat cake!”
ABOUT DAVID AND DANIELLE OCKMAN
David and Danielle Ockman love South Florida and reside in Deerfield Beach with their 12 year old son Blake, and 7 year old daughter, Skylar. Blake’s B’mitzvah is scheduled for October, 2014.
David is a licensed clinical psychologist practicing in the field of addictions for over 20 years and Danielle is a Social Worker and the Dean of Students at a private Jewish Day School. Danielle’s passion for making people treats lead her to preparing “specialty and custom” chocolate and edible B’mitzvah favors for “Favor It Things.” David and Danielle have become known in the B’mitzvah community of South Florida, as they host the Facebook group, “South Florida Bar Mitzvah and Bat Mitzvah Planning Group.” Some consider this group to be the B’mitzvah hub, bringing parents and vendors together for a “virtual B’mitzvah showcase” everyday. Since starting the FB page, David has been called “Dr. Mitzvah” and the couple continue to talk many B’mitzah parents down off the ledge!
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