It’s never been more evident that our world is broken. As Jews it is our duty to perform acts of Tikkun Olam, repairing the world. Many congregations have a Mitzvah project requirement as part of the Bar or Bat Mitzvah process and it is such an important way to show your child(ren) that they have the power to make a difference. Instead of looking as a Mitzvah project as another thing to check off as part of the process, use it to inspire your child to make the world a better place. How do you do that?
Make the Mitzvah project meaningful for your child
Ask yourself, what is important to your child? A great way to start that conversation is to use current events as a springboard to find a way to help. Current issues like the refugee crisis, the environment or marginalized groups, could spark involvement with non-profits with expertise in those areas. Or connect this activity to your child’s interests–could they work with animals, help with sports for a Special Olympics team…?
Consider the impact of their Mitzvah Project
Volunteering somewhere once may fulfill a requirement, but has it really made a difference in your community or the world? Think big. Then think bigger. Sustained involvement and education on the issue will make the Mitzvah project more meaningful for your child and more likely to make a difference.
Fundraising has a direct influence on the ability of an organization to fulfill its mission, but it’s also important to see where the money your child has raised or the resources that your child collected are going. It goes beyond just giving tzedakah to actually learning how the money will be used and understanding why it is important.
Make helping others a regular occurrence
Now that your child is becoming a Bar or Bat Mitzvah, they should make doing Mitzvah a regular part of their lives. This is something that you, as the parent, can help embody. Yes, it’s another commitment, but what is more important than showing your child that they can make a difference and that little steps can make a big impact
Some great resources are your Rabbi or Cantor, Mitzvah Bowl, Charity Navigator and good ol’ Google. There are so many worthwhile organizations in every community that could benefit from your child’s time, talents or fundraising. Now go forth and Mitzvah!