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Watch the 2018 High Holy Day sermons!

For my mitzvah project, I decided to choose something that was meaningful to my family and me. After a lot of thought and discussion, I decided to raise money for my grandfather’s cancer research fund at UCLA which my grandmother established in his memory. My grandfather died of melanoma cancer when I was 4 years old. I learned many things from this project. I learned how to organize a fundraiser. I went to a nursery, and they donated plants and flowers for the fundraiser. I sold them outside my house. When a customer bought something, we gave them a paper that explained my mitzvah project. I also learned more about the UCLA Jonsson cancer center. I learned that with the money they raise, they try to find a cure for cancer. Since it costs so much money to research, it really means a lot to them. In addition, I received contributions for the fund. I also decided to give an amount of my Bat Mitzvah money to UCLA. This whole experience was so important to me. — By Rebecca Dersh

For my mitzvah project, I collected used but still in good condition soccer gear for needy kids in Southern LA. The reason I chose this project is because I love to play soccer, and I could not imagine being deprived of such a great game as soccer. Without soccer, I wouldn’t have all the great memories that I do and all the family road trips I have taken from Arizona all the way to Santa Barbara to play soccer. I learned it is good to give back to the community because you can make a difference and make a child’s life better. If I made just one kid happy, I am proud because I have changed his life forever and made him have a better life. This for me is an accomplishment. — By Corey Stein

I helped out at the Blue Cross Pet Hospital for my mitzvah projectl. I went once a week on Fridays. When I went there, I mostly played with two cats named Rosco and Miss-E who have been up for adoption for about 4 years. I brushed them, played with them, and talked to them. I liked helping with the cats because I don’t have a cat at home, so it gave me chance to play with them. I learned from Rosco and Miss-E that cats can get tired of attention. Sometimes they don’t want to be petted or played with. That surprised me a lot! I also swept the floors of the cats room, and other rooms, so the Blue Cross would be a clean place. You have to be 16 years old to walk the dogs, and I hope I can get the chance to do that someday. I felt good helping out the animals at the Blue Cross because I love animals, and I would help them anytime. I think animals are really important, and I felt good helping them. I love kids too, but I like helping animals because people don’t treat them as importantly as they treat humans. I loved working at the Blue Cross Pet Hospital, and I plan to continue working there. — By Jenna Gurvis

I partnered up with one of my friends and gathered up a committee for my Bar Mitzah project. All the money we made was given to the Foundation Fighting Blindness. We rented the Ultra Zone Laser Tag for a night to get people to come and spend their money there. There is a $30 fee and $2 per slice of pizza and unlimited drinks. The committee took shifts working and playing. For preparation, the committee had many meetings before the event to make decisions about the event – to make flyers and decide where to put them up and to stuff envelopes. We put up flyers everywhere and got people to come and mail flyers to everyone we knew and some people we didn’t know to get sponsorships. In the end, we made $10,000 between the sponsorships and the event. — By Jonathan Chester

In Ethiopia today, thousands of Jews are starving, homeless, and unable to legally practice their religion. For some reason, many people have ignored this horrible matter, so I have decided to collect change to make a change in the suffering Ethiopians’ lives. By getting people to donate loose change to this cause, we can help make a huge difference. This money will be contributed to the North American Conference of Ethiopian Jewry, an amazing charitable organization that provides much needed medicine, food, clothing, shelter, and education directly to the poor Ethiopian Jews. — By David Bloch

For my mitzvah project, I collected children’s books for Head Start pre-schools in South Central LA. Head Start programs make sure children of low income families learn what they need to be ready for school. I chose this project because many children do not have books at home and there are not enough books to go around at their school. I think all children should be able to go to pre-school and get a head start for regular school. To do this project, I set up a collection box at the religious school. I made up flyers and went to the classes and explained how important it was to collect books for children in need. I asked everyone to help. I asked for new or slightly used books for children ages 3-6. I checked the boxes each week. Then I delivered the books to Head Start. While I was there, I also read some books to the kids. I feel so fortunate to have so many books in my home and at school. I want children at Head Start to have more books like I do. — By Max Halpert

For my mitzvah project, I donated items such as canned foods, blankets, and clothing to a local Santa Monica community center. I feel it is very important to help the needy in their awful situations. I asked family members and friends to help. I also collected canned foods from the neighborhood, and I put an ad in the neighborhood paper. From asking many people, as well as putting my own belongings in bags, I was so happy to know that someone, somewhere, would be getting these items. I enjoyed doing this mitzvah project very much. Most of all, I liked the feeling in my heart knowing that I made a difference in the world, even if it was just a small one. — By Julia Lieberman

For our mitzvah project, we asked our friends and family to donate blood at their nearest hospital. The reason that we asked them to do this is to honor the kindness and generosity shown to our father. We were hoping to help replenish the blood supply after he used it. We got the message to everyone by putting a notice about our project in our B’nai Mitzvah invitations. Then, after they had donated, they would email or call us and tell us about their donation. Several people contacted us about their donations, and sometimes people donated multiple times which we appreciated very much. There are some guidelines to donating blood which made our total amount of donations smaller. The main guideline is that you must be at least 17 years old to donate. So, our friends who are 12 and 13 weren’t able to donate to help our cause, but in many cases their parents did donate! We are glad that we got such a great response and it’s our way of saying thanks to the blood donors who saved our dad’s life. — By Zachary and Jared Sklar

Educate the Children is one of the task forces at KI. This group collects supplies, computers, and other things for needy schools in Los Angeles. These schools and their students cannot afford to pay for things like pencils and paper which are definitely necessary for school children. I chose to do my mitzvah project with them. What I did was contact the coordinators of the task force and made a plan of what to do. I called to speak with the managers of Office Depot, Staples, Michael’s, and any other school supplies/office/art store for contributions. I also asked my friends, neighbors, and students and parents at school to help donate to this worthy cause. — By Rachel Fuhrman

At the beginning of my Bar Mitzvah studies, I decided that I wanted to do something to help the environment for my mitzvah project. So, I helped build and maintain trails in our state and national parks. One might ask how this is helping the environment and not just hurting it by destroying plant life? It is beneficial for the parks to have their trails maintained for a couple of reasons. First and foremost, it keeps people along a certain path which makes it so they don’t have go “cross country” which is very harmful for the plants and disturbs the wildlife. If there is a trail, the animals who live near it know that people will come along that trail and not leave it, making so that they can much more easily fit into their daily patterns. Finally, a park with maintained trails is much more likely to be a more frequently visited park, allowing people to enjoy and embrace nature without doing it any harm. I spent many hours inside the Topanga State Park and found an unparalleled sense of peace and contentment while inside it. I did three hours of trail maintenance per week for several weeks and one hour planning it. — By Gabriel Fuhrman

I worked on the High Holy Day Food Drive for the Westside Food Bank. There were 1200 grocery bags that needed to be prepared for mailing so that people could put food in them to bring to services. First, we folded the bags in half and put mailing and return addresses on them. Then, we attached the postage and stapled them closed. Then, we mailed them to all the members of KI. This took almost three hours! The next part of the project was the actual food collection at the Wadsworth Theater during the High Holy Day services. We collected the bags from all the people who brought them to services and then loaded them into barrels on the Westside Food Bank truck. I worked for four hours on four different days. We collected a total of 12,985 lbs. of food which translates into approximately 13,000 meals. The food we collected was being eaten by people in need the day after it was collected. The final part of my project was to go to the Westside Food Bank and sort the food that was collected for distribution. I spent another three hours at the food bank. — By Nicole Cameron

Sat, July 20 2024 14 Tammuz 5784