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Mitzvah Projects

                     Bar/Bat Mitzvah Projects at Am Yisrael

 

To access a four-page printable PDF of all of the information found directly below, please click here.

As B’nai Mitzvah, sons and daughters of the Commandments, our Am Yisrael Congregation Bar/Bat Mitzvah students are expected to perform at least three Mitzvah Projects as part of the process of becoming B'nai Mitzvah. Selecting mitzvah projects should be done in partnership with your family and the synagogue. We are happy to guide you to various resources to help select your Mitzvah Projects.

 

1. In addition to the students writing about the Mitzvah projects that will be distributed or delivered as part of a D'var Torah at their Bar/Bat Mitzvah, our Am Yisrael students will present their Mitzvah projects to the SJS community at the Mitzvah Projects Presentations. We are in the process of making plans for the annual Mitzvah Projects Presentation remotely, given the logistic realities of the COVID-19 pandemic.  Mr. Sherman, SJS Teachers and selected Madrichim work with our Zayin students on the process of preparing to share these mitzvah projects.

 

2. There are three categories of Mitzvah projects that are required of Am Yisrael Bar/Bat Mitzvah students:

 

Am Yisrael-Based Mitzvah Project

Israel-Based Mitzvah Project

Chicago-Based Mitzvah Project OR Mitzvah based purely on student's passion

 

3. Am Yisrael Based Mitzvah Project

Suggested activities:

• Regularly attend our Shabbat morning services

• Regularly attend our Friday night services

• Regularly attend our Sunday morning minyan

• Commit to attend our daily minyan during your school breaks

• Commit to attend holiday services (Sukkot, Simchat Torah, Purim, Shavuot, Passover,etc.)

• Become a regular Torah or Haftorah reader

• Chant from Megillat Esther on Purim

• Begin wearing tefillin upon reaching Bar or Bat Mitzvah

• Teach students at SJS how to put on tefillin on Sunday mornings

Make a commitment to become a madrich or madricha (teaching assistant) in our School of Jewish Studies (SJS)

• Assist at SJS with various projects: organizing materials, decorating classrooms, delivering snacks, etc.

Donate a portion of the money you receive in gifts for your Bar/Bat Mitzvah to Am Yisrael

• Volunteer to supervise composting at synagogue and/or school events

• Volunteer to deliver food for the Rosh Hashanah and Passover Maot Chitim program

• Volunteer with your family for Family Promise

• Take part in ongoing Tikkun Olam food, clothing, toy or book drives and/or help to spearhead one

 

4. Israel Based Mitzvah Project

Identify an organization or cause in Israel that inspires you. It should be a place that you will visit and volunteer when you make your first or next trip to Israel. For the time being, if you will need be going to Israel between now and your Bar or Bat Mitzvah please consider donating to the organization that you choose and/or and contact someone at the organization to find out if there is a specific way that you can offer your assistance now. You will also be asked to share why you are inspired by the organization and/or project that you have chosen. Learn about the organization and see if there are other ways you can support the organization.

 

5. Chicago Based Mitzvah Project or one based on student's passions

Select an organization or cause where you can volunteer your time. This can either be a local organization whose work appeals to you, or one that resonates with your own interests (i.e. an animal shelter, working with the elderly, helping people with special needs with sports and/or the arts, a hospital, child care center, etc.)

 

6. We ask each student to choose at least one verse from the Tanakh (Hebrew Bible), Rabbinics or modern commentators that inspires him/her to perform mitzvot. Here is a fantastic link to access the verses in both Hebrew and English:https://www.sefaria.org/texts.  Here is an additional link of several Torah verses, also in both Hebrew and English, that we have compiled that inspire the performance of mitzvot: https://images.shulcloud.com/1177/uploads/SJS-PDFs/Text-Sources-to-Inspire-Performing-Mitzvot.pdf

 

7. Mitzvah Project Presentation: Each Bar/Bat Mitzvah student for this year's Kitah Zayin (7th Grade) will be presenting their three chosen mitzvah projects to the entire Am Yisrael SJS community.  The aspects of the project that had been shown on a tri-fold in the past will be shared electronically this year.  The following information should help each Bar/Bat Mitzvah student thoroughly complete their electronic slides:

 

-Include Bar/Bat Mitzvah student's first and last name in English and their Hebrew name(s).

-We ask Bar/Bat Mitzvah students to summarize projects in writing and with photos or short video clips.   

-Please include a "word cloud,” using websites such as http://www.wordle.net/ or https://wordart.com/create.

-We will devote 5-6 class periods of Zayin SJS to having teachers, madrichim and peers go into Zoom breakout rooms to work on Mitzvah Project slides.  The rest of the project is expected to be completed on Bar/Bat Mitzvah student's own time.   

 

Some additional Resources for Mitzvah Projects:

 

1. Here is a link to the JUF teen mitzvah projects “B’nai Mitzvah Tikkun Olam Manual.” Many of these mitzvah projects can be done locally within Chicagoland: https://jufwebfiles.org/pdf/teens/bnai-mitzvah-2017.pdf. Here is a general link to Tov Teens Volunteering page: https://www.juf.org/teens/BM-Projects.aspx

 

2. Here is the link to an organization called JChoice that has 254 causes that we encourage you to look at if you are trying to figure out a mitzvah project: https://www.jchoice.org.

 

3. Am Yisrael's 8th-12th Graders are perhaps the best resources for brainstorming Mitzvah Projects.  The Mitzvah projects that these students have been unique and inspiring.  Please We are confident that these mitzvah projects will spark ideas when you brainstorm with your families, classmates and our Am Yisrael faculty and staff.  Our Am Yisrael SJS B’nai Mitzvah Projects team is available to assist with questions or concerns: Head of School, Mr. Sherman csherman@amyisrael.org or 847-708-1805 (mobile) or SJS Teachers Morah Sandra Mieli Kamm smielikamm@amyisrael.org, Mr. Arnet aarnet@amyisrael.org or Hazzan Szenes-Strauss (Mr. S.) lszenesstrauss@amyisrael.org.

 

4. Liz Suneby and Diane Heiman published a book that we recommend called The Mitzvah Project Book: Making Mitzvah Part of Your Bar/Bat Mitzvah..and Your Life.

 

Revised August 31, 2020  11 Elul 5780

Sun, September 27 2020 9 Tishrei 5781