B’nei Mitzah Students supporting our community

January 30, 2024
By Rabbi Ita Paskind

This year’s class of B’nei Mitzvah students and their parents have completed a series of three seminars with Rabbi Paskind, designed to prepare them for entering Jewish adulthood.  This is the second year that our B’nei Mitzvah seminars include presentations from mitzvah heroes in our local community.  In our first two meetings, we learned about Little Free Libraries with Norwalk Early Childhood Coordinator Mary Oster (a member of our shul!) and about the incredible work of Schoke Jewish Family Service (JFS) with Chief Program Officer Leah Schechter.

On Sunday, January 28, students and parents met with Stacy Kamisar, Program Director at the Jewish Federation of Greater Fairfield County and Director of Federation’s Dignity Grows chapter.  Stacy shared with us about the cycle of poverty, and specifically how people who menstruate are affected severely if they can’t afford period hygiene products.  We spoke about how period poverty is a universal issue, not just an issue for women.  It’s also a Jewish issue of tikkun olam, working to repair the brokenness in our world.

When our young people design and implement a Mitzvah Project around their B’nei Mitzvah, we want them to select an issue that is meaningful to them and where they can make an impact.  We have had students volunteer with animals, at soup kitchens, and teaching sports through the Special Olympics.  We’ve had students collect items for donation and bring them to a recipient organization–a local sports league, the hospital, a school, a library.  Our students’ Mitzvah Projects are a highlight of their entry into Jewish adulthood, and our community loves to learn what they have done.

After our conversation with Stacy, we then packed 100 tote bags with body soap and shampoo, toothpaste and a toothbrush, deodorant, wipes, and pads, which will be distributed through local partner organizations.

If you’re interested in Dignity Grows, please let me know and I’ll put you in touch with Stacy.

And mark your calendars to come and celebrate this year’s students’ B’nei Mitzvah:

Hazel Tyson-Krieger, May 25

Isabella Frey, June 1

Brayden Charlip, September 7

Kaitlyn Wahnish, October 19