Not all Bar Bat Mitzvah children are required to complete a Mitzvah Project, but many do.
As many parents know, finding a Mitzvah Project that your child is passionate about can be challenging. We are happy to share a great list of Mitzvah Project ideas from A To Z from Areyvut.
Areyvut’s mission is to infuse the lives of Jewish youth and teenagers with innovative programs with the core Jewish values of chesed (kindness), tzedakah (charity), and tikkun olam (social action). We thank Daniel Rothner and Areyvut for sharing these wonderful Mitzvah Project ideas with our readers.
AMIT enables Israel’s youth to realize their potential and strengthens Israeli society by educating and nurturing children from diverse backgrounds within a framework of academic excellence, religious values and Zionist ideals. Areyvut has worked with AMIT’s Bar and Bat Mitzvah program to offer Bnai Mitzvah celebrants the opportunity to bond with an AMIT child in Israel who is also preparing for his or her Bar/Bat mitzvah celebration and provides underprivileged children in Israel with the memories of a lifetime.
Areyvut helped a Bar Mitzvah celebrant facilitate a Bowl-a-Thon Bar Mitzvah project called “Bowl Over Hunger,” which benefited Table to Table, a food rescue network of Israel. More than 40 kids attended the Bowl-a-Thon and, together, they raised more than $700 to help feed families in Israel.
Children’s Aid and Family Services’ Center in New Jersey was the recipient of twins Shoshi and Emma who decorated mini-hope chests for girls who are in the process of being adopted but are currently living in a group house. The Bnot Mitzvah and their friends decorated and personalized boxes so that the girls would have something to keep their memories in once they are adopted.
DOROT is a partnership of volunteers, professionals and seniors dedicated to enhancing the lives of the elderly. DOROT enables older people to maintain their independence and live with dignity in their own homes for as long as possible. Volunteer opportunities include visiting an elderly person in person or on the phone, making gifts for homebound elders, becoming a pen pal to a home bound elder or collecting household items for elders in need.
Eva’s Village is a non-profit comprehensive social service organization located in Paterson, NJ. Their mission is to feed the hungry, shelter the homeless and provide medical care to those in need. Eva’s kitchen provides weekly volunteer opportunities for children ages 15 and above. Other opportunities for the youth to get involved include sharing art work in their Youth Art Gallery and coordinating donation drives to raise awareness and collected needed items.
The Friendship Circle extends a helping hand to families who have children with special needs and involves them in a full range of Jewish and social experiences. Areyvut has sent groups of Mitzvah Clowns to interact with children of the Friendship Circle and have also participated in many walks that raised money for the organization.
Giving2Gether is an initiative to create inter-generational and developmentally appropriate Jewish education programming for families with children ages five years and younger. Giving2Gether provides an opportunity for schools, synagogues, community centers and families to benefit from a new, innovative and collaborative model of inter-generational engagement. Participants of the program are exposed to new models of family engagement and have rich opportunities to deepen their connection to Judaism and Jewish friends. Topic covered in the program include visiting the sick, welcoming guests, charity, human dignity, honoring parents, and ethical treatment of animals.
At the 2015 New Jersey Jewish Film Festival, Areyvut sponsored Havana Curveball, a film that explores the rocky journey of Mica, a Bar Mitzvah-aged boy as he works on his Mitzvah Project – providing baseball equipment to poor children in Cuba. Following the film, Areyvut facilitated a panel discussion that included a hands-on teen workshop to help participants come up with a value to address for a Bar/Bat Mitzvah project.
Areyvut facilitates community Israel fairs in order to raise awareness of Israeli organizations and volunteer opportunities that unite and educate our communities. Responding to the needs of people affected by Operation Protective Edge in 2014, Areyvut facilitated an Israel Chesed Fair to support businesses located in the most affected communities in Southern Israel. Areyvut worked with Tal Tours to bring 30 vendors to America, found home hospitality for those who needed it and arranged the seven locations where the fairs were held. This fair drew 2,000 attendees and vendors’ sales were $70,000.
The Jewish Board of Family and Children’s Services has a century long tradition of helping families and children – a tradition that began with its commitment to poor Jewish families and immigrants. Areyvut’s volunteer work with The Jewish Board of Family and Children’s Services includes helping children with homework, organizing recreational activities and doing arts and crafts with families.
A Kindness a Day offers calendar and email daily suggestions on how to make the world a better place. The purpose of the calendar is to give each reader a practical suggestion on how to incorporate the values of chesed, tzedakah and tikkun olam into his/her daily life. Each day of the week contains a kindness that corresponds to a traditional Jewish text. To sign up for Areyvut’s A Kindness a Day emails, click here!
Leket Israel, Israel’s largest national food bank and rescue network, works to alleviate the problem of nutritional insecurity and eradicate hunger in Israel, providing food and nutritional support to 140,000 Israelis each week. Leket has presented at Areyvut’s chesed fairs numerous times and offers many hands-on volunteer opportunities including Project Leket: Gleaning the Land.
Areyvut’s Mitzvah Clowning program has taken the area by storm. Each new clown is equipped with the knowledge and skills necessary for bikkur cholim (visiting the sick), elderly and those with special needs. Mitzvah Clowns also learn how to apply clown make-up, create balloon animals and initiate conversation with others who may be different from them. To date, Areyvut has trained over 500 Mitzvah Clowns.
Areyvut’s National Mitzvah Day is an opportunity to get children, teenagers and adults involved in community service activities. With activities taking place from coast to coast, there is something for everyone to get involved with! National Mitzvah Day, which is partnered with Good Deeds Day, is the perfect opportunity to actively make a difference and give to your community through a variety of service projects.
OneFamily Fund was created in response to the ongoing tragedies caused by terrorism affecting families and children in Israel. One Family provides emergency and long-term support for physical and emotional health, education, housing and other needs of survivors and their families. Areyvut has worked with One Family Fund at its Chesed Fairs and has introduced Bnai Mitzvah celebrants to the organization’s mission.
Jewish Teen Philanthropy is one of Areyvut’s most important programs. This unique program brings Jewish teens together for the purpose of learning about charitable giving and philanthropy, resulting in the group’s allocation of funds to organizations in need. This program is a wonderful way for students to gain leadership skills, work on their team building and come together as one cohesive unit.
The Queens Jewish Community Council serves the needs of the people of Queens with kindness, compassion and understanding. The QJCC provides social services, cultural programming and educational forums for senior, immigrant and low-income communities living in Queens. QJCC is one of the organizations listed on Areyvut’s Bnai Mitzvah database and offers several volunteer suggestions. For example, food pantry volunteers pack food into individual packages to go out to those in need and office volunteers help put together mailings that reach over 3,000 people a month to let them know about social services, community events, concerts and lectures sponsored by the QJCC.
Red Nose Day is an international campaign dedicated to raising money for children and young people living in poverty by simply having fun and making people laugh. To celebrate, Areyvut organized three Mitzvah Clowning programs, educated 500 students at a local school about the importance of kindness and gave out 3,000 red noses to the local community.
The Shabbos Project brought Jews together, not only for the observance of Shabbat, but also ina group Challah baking session, chesed programming and a large-scale end of Shabbat program. Whether people kept Shabbat every week or have never observed before, all were welcome to unite at the Shabbos Project.
The Tikkun Olam Tour is a day of service that gives kids, teenagers and adults the opportunity to experience a few different types of volunteering over the course of one day. The goal of this program is to expose participants to various community needs, communal agencies and volunteer experiences, with the hope that they will feel passionately about one specific cause and volunteer in the future. Through the Tikkun Olam Tour, Areyvut partners and develops its relationships with local agencies and organizations to offer families and friends the opportunity to volunteer together and serve the community.
Areyvut organized a Unity Day to honor Eyal Yifrach, Gilad Shaar and Naftali Frankel who lost their lives on June 3rd, 2014, Event are planned to educate the community about ways to get involved in volunteer opportunities while offering children and adults a space to work together on various hands-on chesed projects. By bringing together 12 Israeli not-for-profit agencies, Areyvut was able to create a sense of unity within the community.
The Agahozo Shalom Youth Village is just one of the many organizations that has presented at Areyvut’s Bnai Mitzvah Chesed Fairs. ASVY aims to create a safe and structured community for orphaned children in Rwanda. It is a place where these traumatized youth can “dry their tears” (Agahozo) and “live in peace” (Shalom). Areyvut has worked with Bnai Mitzvah celebrants to donate pillow cases, crafts and games to the Youth Village.
Short Ribs and Chilli and Lamb, oh my! Areyvut partnered with The Wandering Que to host a fundraiser event in their own backyard. Community members were invited to enjoy a full day of Texas Smokehouse BBQ. Proceeds from the event went to support Areyvut’s new and ongoing programming.
Areyvut participated in the Kesher Olam Expo at Temple Emanu-El in Closter, NJ. The expo highlighted Mitzvah project opportunities for pre-Bar/Bat Mitzvah students and their parents. Areyvut met with parents and students to teach how they can get involved in a variety of hands on projects. Programs highlighted at the expo include Mitzvah Clowning, Tikkun Olam Tour and Bnai Mitzvah Consultations.
For Yom Ha’atzmaut (Israel Independence Day), Areyvut organized and implemented a Tzedakah challenge for the Middle School students at the Rosenbaum Yeshiva of North Jersey. The program engaged more than 300 students in an interactive educational program learning about Israeli needs and non profits.
ZAKA is an Israeli voluntary humanitarian organization with nearly 1,000 volunteers that responds to emergency situations throughout the country, providing immediate first aid and rescue to victims of disaster. Bnai Mitzvah celebrants have the opportunity to help raise funds for the organization, through fund raisers, school drives or simply by asking family and friends to donate to ZAKA instead of buying a present.