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Mitzvah Projects

                     Bar/Bat Mitzvah Projects at Am Yisrael

 

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Bar/Bat Mitzvah Projects at Am Yisrael

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. Our Am Yisrael Bar/Bat Mitzvah students will present their Mitzvah projects to the SJS community at the Mitzvah Projects Presentations.  This year’s Mitzvah Projects Presentation has been modified to a remote format as part of the last day of SJS this school year — Sunday morning, May 16.  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

• 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. 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.  Including a Sacred Verse that inspires the performance of Mitzvot: 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 via a two to three minute pre-recorded presentation.  (a) Each student must turn in bullet points of the pre-recording to make sure it includes all aspects expected listed above.  (b) Students are expected to speak passionately about why they chose their mitzvah projects, about a verse of Torah that inspires them (either from their Torah portion or from the list of verses listed in #6 above) and when and how they plan on following through with their mitzvah projects. (c) We will devote 5-6 class periods of Zayin SJS to having teachers, madrichim and peers go into Zoom breakout rooms to work on as many aspects of preparing for the videotaping as possible.  The rest of the project, including the actual videotaping, is expected to be completed on Bar/Bat Mitzvah student's own time.  (d) The videotaping must be submitted to Mr. Sherman via email csherman@amyisrael.org or text message 847-708-1805 no later than end of business hours on Friday, May 7.   

Some additional Resources for Mitzvah Projects:

8. 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

9. 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.

10.  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.

11. 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 April 14, 2021  2 Iyar 5781

Tue, June 22 2021 12 Tammuz 5781