An Advocate’s Guide to Your Tzedakah Project


INTRODUCTION

This Online Guide is for you, a bar or bat mitzvah student who is thinking about (or being pressured to do) a special mitzvah project that combines both advocacy and tzedakah in connection with your bar or bat mitzvah ceremony and celebration. Note: you can download a PDF of this entire guide here.

Advocating means talking about and trying to convince someone about something important to you. Tzedakah is the practice of giving charity or doing good works. A mitzvah project combines both.

scroll2You are busy with schoolwork, sports or other after school activities and studying for your bar or bat mitzvah. Why should you consider doing a mitzvah project when you already have so much to do? It’s already a big responsibility to lead the congregation in prayer, chant from the Torah and deliver a meaningful d’var Torah. Maybe you are not sure you know how to be an advocate or pick a project.

This online guide explains why a tzedakah or mitzvah project will make your bar or bat mitzvah more memorable and meaningful and how Jewish World Watch can help you make it fun, interesting and enjoyable.


Do not be daunted by the enormity of the world’s grief. Do justly now. Love mercy, now. Walk humbly, now. You are not obligated to complete the work, but neither are you free to abandon it. The Talmud

WHY DO A MITZVAH PROJECT?

With all the time, planning and resources that are focused on making the day memorable, it is easy to lose sight of one of the most important mitzvot: tzedakah or tikkun olam (repairing the world).

Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel taught us to “pray with our feet.” While that could be taken literally as a challenge to join the Walk to End Genocide, it also means that living Jewishly means doing something, not just using our words but also our actions.

Creating and executing a mitzvah project allows you to express your Jewish values in a way that is personal to you. It also makes this important life cycle event something even bigger to celebrate and will empower you to make a real difference in the lives of others.


One key thing is that the mitzvah project should be something the student really has thought about, that it comes from somewhere inside of them, and that they learn something about how to interact with communities that are in need.

Rabbi Jill Jacobs

PICKING YOUR PROJECT: WHAT SHOULD MY PROJECT BE ABOUT?

Your particular project starts with you. What do you think is wrong with the world?  What problem would you hope to solve? Thinking about what keeps you up at night and talking about it with your parents, friends or rabbi will bring clarity and help you choose an issue that is right for you.

handsholdworldNext, think about what you are good at and what you like to do. Most people start working on a mitzvah project during the year leading up to their Bar/Bat mitzvah service.  Think about what could be interesting enough that you would want to do it for a whole year.

Once you have come up with a particular concern and have identified an area in which you can make an impact, think about how much time you have, what resources you have, what obstacles you might face, and who can assist or partner with you. With these things in mind, you can set your goals and figure out what is practical for you to accomplish.

The next step is to find a link or parallel between the issues that concern, intrigue or move you and the education, advocacy and relief work that that JWW addresses. This is where a phone call or meeting with JWW staff may help. Our staff is here to help you review your project ideas or brainstorm with you to come up with a project idea that fits you.

 

 Go to next page, JWW Mitzvah Project Hints >