Mitzvah Market Magazine: A Mitzvah Ride

Mitzvah Market Magazine: A Mitzvah Ride

By Nesya Bayewitz

Instead of having the typical fancy Bat Mitzvah party, I thought about what becoming a Bat Mitzvah actually means. Bat Mitzvahs aren’t only about having a pretty dress and a fancy party, but they’re about becoming an adult in Jewish law. This means you now are obligated to do mitzvot and follow the Torah.

I thought, what a perfect way to celebrate becoming a Bat Mitzvah by actually doing a mitzvah. My mitzvah was a 10-mile bike ride to raise money for the Jewish Family & Children’s Service of Northern New Jersey Kosher Meals on Wheels program. JFCS provides food to homebound seniors and other people who aren’t able to go to the grocery store.

My family and I have been going on this bike ride since I was eight years old. I love it, because while doing what I love – biking – I also get to do a chesed. At the ride last year, I saw ten boys riding their bikes for someone’s Bar Mitzvah chesed and thought, “I want to do that too, but I want to bring all of my friends.”

My parents contacted JFCS about idea, and they were thrilled. I became part of the JFCS Bike Committee and went to meetings with my mom to help plan the bike ride. We got to learn a ton about JFCS.

A few weeks before my Bat Mitzvah, one of the Kosher Meals on Wheels volunteers, Rich Feldman, took me on his route to deliver meals to seniors. This was a really special experience. Throughout our trip delivering meals, I discovered that not all the seniors are necessarily poor; they just can’t leave their apartments to buy food. I also realized that there are people right in our neighborhood who need this food, and it’s our job to help them. The seniors we visited were so appreciative of the meals and the visits, and I felt so proud to be part of this chesed.

On the Shabbat before the bike ride, I spoke at my shul about my experience with JFCS and Kosher Meals on Wheels. I told the congregation about how small acts of chesed are what keep the Jewish people alive and strong. This is the lesson of the menorah in the Mishkan – just like Aharon and the kohanim lit the menorah day in and day out, the mitzvot that we do behind the scenes are what matter the most.

When the day of my Bat Mitzvah finally arrived, 60 friends and 40 family members joined me at the JFCS Ride to Fight Hunger (www.RidetoFightHunger). Some of my friends’ parents signed up too because they wanted to be part of this mitzvah. Before the ride, we all davened with siddurim we made for the occasion.

Although a lot of friends were planning on only doing part of the route, EVERYONE ended up riding all ten miles.

Some people asked me why I didn’t want a typical party. My answer: “This ride is a party.” After the ride was over, there was a DJ, games, and a barbeque. I got all the special parts of a Bat Mitzvah (friends, family, a song written by my friends, etc.) all wrapped in chesed.

My team ended up raising $18,000, including my parents’ sponsorship for all the riders who came as our guests and the generous donations made by family and friends. After riding for JFCS, my grandfather, who is retired, is now signing up to deliver Kosher Meals on Wheels. Because the food delivery time is during the school day, I hope to stay connected with JFCS and deliver meals when I’m older. A lot of my friends had such a great time that they’re planning to bring their families to the ride next year. I hope I can continue to raise awareness about food insecurity and people who need our help, and show people that you can have fun while doing a chesed.

Nesya is a 7th grader from Teaneck, NJ. For more information about Jewish Family & Children’s Service of Northern New Jersey, visit jfcsnnj.org.

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Posted in Mitzvah Ideas, Judaica, Projects and tagged .