B’nai Mitzvah program provides opportunities to help Israel’s fragile youth in meaningful ways.
Two teens who live on opposite sides of the United States recently completed B’nai Mitzvah “tzedakah” projects that raised funds for Yemin Orde Youth Village, learned about the fulfillment of helping others, and made lasting connections to the Village and to Israel.
Sharing a love of basketball with the Village’s youth
Coby Rabinowitz (New Jersey)
Coby Rabinowitz, son of Heather and Adi Rabinowitz, celebrated his Bar Mitzvah on September 4, 2017. He recently completed a two-month fundraising effort to support recreational programs and purchase sports equipment for the at-risk teens at Yemin Orde Youth Village.
Coby raised over $12,000 by asking family, friends and his community for donations in lieu of gifts. Those contributions were made directly through the Friends of Yemin Orde website which, in turn, notified Coby of the donation.
Since basketball, in particular, is an important element of Coby’s life, enhancing the sports programs for Yemine Orde’s fragile teens was a perfect fit for an individual who wanted to share his passion with others in need.
“Because of my love of sports and my love of Israel, I wanted to raise funds for Yemin Orde Youth Village. I wanted to help give the kids at Yemin Orde some of the same opportunities and experiences that I’ve enjoyed,” Coby said. “With the funds for sports equipment and instruction, the youth will have a chance to enjoy these activities, and will understand that there are total strangers who care about them.”
Sports provides Yemin Orde’s teens with more than exercise and recreational play. Fragile youth learn about teamwork, discipline, and how to follow rules. These are important life skills that will benefit the Village’s teens when they graduate.
Coby first learned about Yemin Orde from his father, Adi Rabinowitz, who visited the Village in the summer of 2016, on a Berrie Foundation sponsored trip. Coby had already spent the past year volunteering with children with special needs and teaching them to enjoy basketball and other sports. When it was time to discuss Coby’s Bar Mitzvah celebration, his father shared his experience at Yemin Orde, hoping Coby would be inspired by the Village’s teens and their resilience despite years of trauma.
“Teaching children and teens about tzedakah at a young age is important because it then becomes second nature for them as adults,” Adi said. “The ability to take what you receive and share with others, is something we hope Coby incorporates in to his daily life going forward.”
Coby hopes to visit Yemin Orde in the Spring, 2018, when he will tour Israel for two weeks with his eighth grade class at the Solomon Schechter Day School of Bergen County. Meeting Yemin Orde’s youth and, perhaps, playing basketball with his new friends, may help encourage a long-term commitment to Israel and his Jewish identity as well as a rewarding relationship with the Village.
A B’nai Mitzvah project that improves the lives of others
Bella Yadegar (Los Angeles)
Bella Yadegar, daughter of Shirin and Peyman Yadegar, celebrated her bat mitzvah at Yemin Orde Youth Village on June 29, 2017. She traveled to Israel with 60 friends and family members including cousins, aunts and uncles. She was honored with a special blessing inside Yemin Orde’s synagogue, an architectural gem that overlooks the Mediterranean Sea.
At the Village, Bella and her group assembled care packages for lone soldiers in Israel’s Defense Forces who do not have family members in Israel. Afterward, the Village hosted Bella and her guests in a celebratory lunch with much singing and dancing.
Bella was greatly impacted by her visit to the Village and, when she returned home to Los Angeles, decided to direct her B’nai Mitzvah tzedekah project toward raising funds to help cover the costs of two teens at the Village, per year – or $14,000. Israel’s Ministry of Education provides 70 percent of the costs to educate a child at Yemin Orde; the remaining 30 percent, or $7,000, per child, per year, is provided through philanthropy to Friends of Yemin Orde. This additional funding covering the $7,000 gap provides the excellent programs and activities that reflect the Village’s model of excellence.
“When I visited the beautiful village of Yemin Orde I was touched by the love and sense of community in the Village and the kindness in the students’ hearts,” Bella said.
Bella filmed her visit to Yemin Orde and posted the video on her own fundraising page on Yemin Orde’s website. At home, she promoted her fundraising campaign to family, friends and her community and continues to publicly share information about the Village as a Friends of Yemin Orde “Youth Ambassador”.
To date, Bella has exceeded her fundraising goal and raised over $15,000.
“Yemin Orde was a life changer for all of our family and friends who visited the village with us. The peaceful, diverse culture at the village is Israel’s future,” said Shirin Yadegar.
“We are so proud of Bella for cultivating a meaningful Bat Mitzvah project that significantly improves children’s lives and makes a difference in the future if Israel,” said Peyman Yadegar.
Discover the richness of tikkun olam
For Jewish teens, creating their own B’nai Mitzvah “tzedekah” (charity) project as they approach this important milestone is an opportunity to learn more about their humanitarian responsibilities as Jewish adults. It’s a hands-on way to learn the meaning of tikkun olam (repairing the world), and help under-served populations in their communities or abroad in meaningful ways.
Teens who will celebrate a b’nai mitzvah can promote their tzedakah project to family and friends on the Friends of Yemin Orde website. The B’nai Mitzvah Wall of Honor is located at Yemin Orde Youth Village and honors the philanthropic efforts of individuals who, after completion of their bar or bat mitzvah, donate $1,800 or more to the Village to help its fragile youth. Teens Coby Rabinowitz and Bella Yadegar will both have their names engraved on Yemin Orde’s B’nai Mitzvah Wall of Honor.
You can help your child discover the richness of tikkun olam with a Yemin Orde B’nai Mitzvah fundraising project.
Participants can hold fundraisers, meetings, and parties or simply ask guests, friends, and family members for gifts to support various needs at the Village. This includes money to help purchase care packages for lone soldiers, school supplies, school clothes and shoes, exercise equipment, field trips, and more.
Email the Friends of Yemin Orde national office or call 202.237.0286 for information about projects and activities where your support is needed. Click here to see a complete list.