As you enter in to the world of Jewish adulthood, we hope you will embrace the mitzvah of working to repair the world (tikkun olam). As part of the Bar or Bat Mitzvah experience, we require every student to participate in a meaningful project to complement their learning. We hope that through this project you will:
- Step outside of your comfort zone and try something new
- Connect with people with whom you may not regularly interact
- Deepen your connection to your Jewish identity
To help guide your Mitzvah Project experience, think about a few things:
- What keeps you up at night? What bothers you about the world that you want to go out and change?
- What is your passion? How can it be used to bring positive change to the world?
- Who do you know? What people can help you achieve your goals?
- Below are some areas in which you may want to work. Find inspiration from other students, or create your own experience!
Poverty/Food Insecurity / Mazon
- “Let all who are in need come and eat!” - BT Ta’anit 20b
- Time and time again, Judaism teaches us to share our bounty. Whether it be leaving the corners of our fields, or donating money to the local soup kitchen, our tradition teaches us to have a responsibility to ensure that all members of our society are fed and sustained. What are some ways that you can uphold this commandment, and help nourish our community?
- University City Hospitality Coalition: Help serve meals at multiple sites in University City.
Contact info: Volunteer Information
- Saint John’s Hospice (1221 Race St): Make food such as sandwiches to drop off at the shelter
Contact info: Kristin Judge, (215) 563-7763
- Jewish Relief Agency Warehouse in Northeast Philadelphia: Deliver food boxes to those in need in different sections of Philadelphia
Contact info: firstname.lastname@example.org; Volunteer Sign-Up Sheet
- Philabundance, Jewish Family Services food pantry, and Sunday Mission Breakfast: Volunteer at various homeless shelters.
Contact info: Philabundance (215-339-0900); Jewish Family Services Food Pantry (609-822-1108); Sunday Mission Breakfast (877) 306-HOME
- Germantown Avenue Crisis Ministry: Help organize their food pantry, sort and inventory food.
Contact info: (215) 843-2340; email@example.com
- Penn Hillel’s Soup Kitchen: Help with set up beforehand, make sandwiches for to-go bags, serve guests and participate in clean up afterwards.
Contact info: Joe Reinisch and Talya Koschitsky
Welcoming the Stranger / Hachnasat Orchim
- “Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door!” - Emma Lazarus, The New Colossus
- There are more people forced to leave their homes than ever before in human history. According to the UN Refugee Agency: “An unprecedented 68.5 million people around the world have been forced from home. Among them are nearly 25.4 million refugees, over half of whom are under the age of 18.” What does your connection to Judaism teach you about this modern crisis? How can you make a difference locally and globally?
- HIAS PA: Work with the kids while their parents take an adult ESL class or volunteer at an after school program for elementary aged children who are newly resettled refugees - The agency is now hosting after-school programs at Spruance as well as at Wilson Middle School.
Contact info: Valeri Harteg
- Reach Out and Read (ROR): Hold a book drive to gather donations for the CHOP ROR program. Click here to find a program in Philadelphia!
- Philly Friendship Circle: Participate in their MVP program designed for young teens teaching them about inclusion and in a number of Sunday Circles- an afternoon gathering where teens are paired with children/teens with special needs to play together and develop friendships.
Contact info: Jared Pashko & Jared Rosenbaum, (215) 574-1765
- Families Forward, near 48th and Market in West Philadelphia: Participate in their homework help/afterschool tutoring and a variety of their other programs.
Contact: Grace Hightower, firstname.lastname@example.org
Supporting the Sick / Bikur Cholim
- “When you visits an ill person, you take away one-sixtieth of the person’s illness.” - Bava Metziah 30b
- Judaism emphasizes the healing power of presence and connection with the those who are sick. Are there illnesses or diseases that have impacted you personally that you can help fight against? Is there a group of people who you could connect with to make a positive impact in
- The Jared Box Project: Create boxes that are filled with items such as games, toys, crafts and categorized by age range for children who are at CHOP struggling with illness/treatment.
Contact info: email@example.com
Sheltering Those in Need / Miklat
- “Share your bread with the hungry, And to take the homeless and the poor into your home; When you see the naked, clothe them, and do not ignore your own kin.” - Isaiah 58:7
- We live in a world of disproportionate access to basic needs. Where do you see to help support your community? What are some ways that you can support your neighbors in need?
- Student-Run Emergency Housing Unit of Philadelphia: Cook a meal & spent time with homeless men, women & children.
Contact info: www.srehup.org/volunteer
Honoring Our Elderly / Kibud Zekanim
- "You shall rise before the aged and show deference to the old"- Leviticus 19:32
- Our tradition teaches us that there is wisdom to be gathered from those who have lived long, and that we should care for those who cannot care for themselves. How can we honor and care for the elders in our community?
- Brith Sholom House: Spend time with the residents or make them small gifts.
Contact info: Michael Schaefer, (215) 877-3445
- Fellowship Manor in Whitehall, PA: Play Bingo or share your performing talents with the residents of the Manor.
Contact info: Cathy Barlok; (610) 799-3000
Environmentalism / Ahavat Ha’Aretz
- “Look at My works, how beautiful and praiseworthy they are! And all that I have created, it was for you that I created it. Pay attention that you do not corrupt and destroy My world: if you corrupt it, there is no one to repair it after you.” - Kohelet Rabah 7:13
- Judaism teaches us that our role in protecting the earth is critical. As a partner in creation, and a guardian of the earth, what are some ways you can make a positive impact on the preservation of our planet?