As we know, one of the foundations of Judaism is to give Tzedaka, or charity. During Bar Mitzvah or Bat Mitzvah preparation, there is an opportunity to stop and reflect, and to think of others in need. Amidst all the joy and celebration, there are those locally, and across the world, who could use extra help. Why not take a moment to reach out? Giving back during such an important occasion reminds us that we have the power to make a difference. It is also a great way to reinforce Jewish values in your thirteen year old, and to make them an active member of the community.
Some families choose to give a donation instead of party favors, while others make a donation in addition to favors, or select a smaller favor so there is room for both. With advance notice, you can even involve your guests, and request that they contribute to your charity of choice, if they want to participate. If possible, we suggest selecting a recipient that has personal meaning to your youngster or entire family. This way, your guests are more likely to understand the significance, and will make an effort to be involved.
Not sure where to donate for your Bar or Bat Mitzvah? We’ve got you covered with suggestions of 6 charities, or charitable causes. We’d love to hear your ideas also!
This non-profit organization is not strictly a charity, but rather a micro-loan program. For as little as $25, your family can help fund an initiative that will change lives. The capital is often used for basic necessities such as tuition, farm equipment, and emergency care. Every dollar contributed is put towards lending efforts, which means you know exactly where your money is going. You can even pick the specific recipient, which makes for a special family activity. There is a very high repayment rate, once returned, the money can then be lent again or given to tzedaka.
To learn more: Kiva
2) Jewish Family Service
This organization makes a huge impact here in San Diego and beyond. They have over thirty services, providing everything from a food pantry to education to immigration support. Donations can be given to benefit local residents, which means you are helping others right here in San Diego. Beyond monetary donations, there are endless opportunities to get involved in programs, and to volunteer time. This can be done as a family or as a special bonding experience with your teen, connecting them with the larger community. You may even find a progam that you stick with long after the Bar or Bar Mitzvah is over.
To learn more: Jewish Family Service
3) Hillel San Diego
Since your Bar/Bat Mitzvah will someday be college-bound, why not support an organization that will help when they get there? Hillel San Diego has a presence at four local campuses, and receives no financial backing from the colleges themselves. Because of this, they rely on outside funding to drive their programs, which promote Jewish life for students on and off campus. They encourage Jewish students to get involved, so this is a chance to give your Bar Mitvah / Bat Mitzvah an early introduction to what they can look forward to. Whether your kiddo winds up staying in San Diego for college, or going, elsewhere, it is a nice idea to support the local Hillel.
To learn more: Hillel San Diego
4) Your Congregation
Whether you belong to a large synagogue or small temple, chances are your congregation could use some financial assistance. From community outreach initiatives to building funds, there is always a way to put contributions to good use. Your Bar or Bat Mitzvah can make a donation in your family’s name, or on behalf of a lost loved one. This will connect them to their heritage while making a personal gesture that matters to them. You may be able to earmark the funds for something specific. For example, write a check directly to the Rabbi’s Discretionary Fund or a religious school scholarship. Or, ask your congregation’s president where the funds would be most beneficial. The leaders of the congregation will steer you in the right direction.
There are many worthy organizations deserving of tzedaka and financial support – not only during a Bar / Bat Mitzvah, but year round. But why not mark the occasion of a Bar or Bat Mitzvah and make a special donation? As your teen takes a place of honor within the community, you will be reinforcing Jewish values, making a difference in the world, and doing a mitzvah in the process. Please feel free to use the examples above, or ask your teen where they would like to see their donation go. The more you can involve them in the process, the more committed they will be. Whether you choose to donate here in San Diego, or to a recipient across the globe, you are putting good into the world at a time of happiness and celebration.