Some teens buy a bike, a computer or an iPhone with the money they receive for their bar mitzvah, but 13-year-old Jake Lefkowitz of New York decided to donate his gift to disabled IDF veterans.
Jake is an avid fan of rock climbing and rappelling, a hobby he inherited from his father Joe, a professional climber who has conquered many mountain tops worldwide. He received $20,000 from his bar mitzvah guests and decided that the money should go to a worthy purpose.
After the celebration, the family contacted UJA-Federation of New York, which operates the Give a Mitzvah–Do a Mitzvah project. As part of the project, teenage boys and girls are given the opportunity to decide which mitzvah they want to do in honor of their coming of age. The goal is to connect the mitzvah to the youth's hobby.
UJA-Federation introduced Jake to Etgarim, a special organization in Israel that facilitates the physical, emotional, and social rehabilitation of children, soldiers, and victims of terror through outdoor sports and recreational activities.
With the money he raised, Jake purchased new rock-climbing ropes, harnesses, helmets, and safety gear, and donated them to the organization.
But that wasn't the end of it. Jake and his family decided to celebrate his bar mitzvah in Israel and mark the event by gliding together with IDF disabled veterans and victims of terror from the Dalton Cliff near Safed.
The extreme sports activity was followed by an outdoor bar mitzvah celebration with a meal, music and dancing.
Jake said he was especially happy to donate to disabled IDF veterans as his sister volunteers as a company clerk in the Paratroopers Brigade and is stationed in Hebron. "I felt committed to this donation," he stated.
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