This phenomenon is gaining momentum both in the religious sector and in the secular sector, and is taking place in areas way beyond Raanana: Girls about to celebrate their coming of age ceremony decide to take part in a program which gives the event real meaning.
"The idea is to allow the participants to experience, along with their mothers, a significant process of feminine empowerment as reflected in Judaism," explains Oshra Koren, who is in charge of the program on behalf of Matan – The Sadie Rennert Women's Institute for Torah Studies.
Bat mitzvah program participants after volunteering at Yad Sarah (Photo: Itzik Yansovich)
"During a series of meetings held once a week, we learn about a different woman who left a mark on history and Jewish tradition – from Miriam and Deborah in the Bible, through Dona Gracia in the Middle Ages, to Israel Prize laureate Rabbanit Bracha Kapach in modern times.
"In a society which emphasizes masculine leadership, we think the spotlight should also be focused on feminine work, which has suffered from lack of public relations throughout the generations."
The bat mitzvah program puts an emphasis on activities for the community and the importance of volunteering. As part of the program, every year the young girls and their mothers arrive at the Yad Sarah offices in Raanana and help clean inhalation devices. In addition each girl donates NIS 15 (about $4), and the money collected is used to buy a wheelchair.
Importance of volunteering
Amit Carmon was nine-years old when her older sister Noam celebrated her bat mitzvah as part of the Matan program and volunteered with Yad Sarah. She decided she wanted to do something for Yad Sarah too, and did not want to wait till she was 12. So she prepared a carton box to collect money, and for three years the family members would put in random donations.
After three years, when she reached the coming of age, Amit donated a wheelchair, milk pump and oxygen tank to the Yad Sarah office in Raanana.
Shilo, her six-year-old brother, announced that in the next seven years he would also be volunteering with Yad Sarah, with the hopes that one day – when he celebrates his own coming of age – the donations he collects will help Yad Sarah buy a large vehicle to drive disabled people.
If the spirit of volunteerism coming from Raanana is prompting you to do something for the community as well, Good Deeds Day which will be held on April 5 may be just what you've been waiting for.
Some 70,000 Israelis volunteered in last year's Good Deeds Day, initiated by the Ruach Tova association. This year may be your chance to join the 2011 circle of giving.
For additional details on the bat mitzvah program of Matan - The Sadie Rennert Women's Institute for Torah Studies – click here
Associations or organizations interested in initiating a project with the help of the Ruach Tova association are welcome to join Good Deeds Day
For additional details dial 1-700-505-202
To volunteer as an individual - click here
To volunteer as a group - click here
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