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American mitzvah girls at the Feb. 2013 gala
VERY exciting news mitzvah ladies! Thanks to a suggestion from Baila’s mom (see this month’s mitzvah profile) we are adding a new raffle contest to our mitzvah project program.

Starting from this month, for each $100 a bat mitzvah girl raises, her name will be added to our annual ‘Fly to the Gala’ drawing. The winning name receives 1 free ticket to fly to Israel to attend the next upcoming gala bat mitzvah for the ladies from the Children’s Home in Netanya!

The drawing will be held once a year on December 1st for the gala that following February. Girls celebrating their bat mitzvah from May-November 2013 are eligible for the 2014 gala raffle.

Next year’s raffle, for the 2015 gala, will be for girls celebrating their bat mitzvah from December 2013-November 2014.



Other ways to earn raffle tickets:
1.    1 for each friend you refer (they mention your name to us) who does her own mitzvah project for Lev LaLev.
2.    1 for featuring your simcha in our e-newsletter and blog (pictures and article).
3.    1 for each presentation about your mitzvah project you make to your school, federation, synagogue, JCC, JR NCSY chapter, or other local club.
4.    1 for every 10 cards you sell (Rosh Hashana and/or Purim).

Good luck ladies! Just remember, everyone is invited to the gala, and no matter what happens, you are all doing the winning mitzvah of supporting orphaned girls in Israel!

 
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It’s not every day that parents with two small children who are touring Israel on a family vacation take the time out to visit a Children’s Home all the way in Netanya. But, this young family is quite unique.

Friends of the Rubin-Zeffren Children’s Home and the Lev LaLev Fund for five years now, Avi and Sara Pultman of Riverdale, New York already visited our girls twice in the past few years – not an easy feat with little ones in tow. Their daughter Jenna is five and Allison is a two year old.

Always interested in their donors’ motivation, LLL, asked Mr. Pultman about his devoted involvement with the Home. He told us that he wanted to instill in his daughters, beginning from their early childhood,  not to take what they have for granted. He believes that through introducing his children to acts of charity and kindness to the less fortunate, they would eventually internalize these lofty principles and adhere to them throughout their lifetime.

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When the Pultman family recently visited the Home, like caring guests, they did not arrive empty handed. They came bearing gifts for our girls – Lego block sets and other fun and educational toys. After they left, the Home’s Program Director, Bracha Runes, distributed the goodies to the girls, who received them with great joy.

More about the Pultmans:

Jenna is a kindergartner at a local Riverdale Hebrew day school. Allison is still at home with her mom. The family is a member of the Riverdale Jewish Center. Avi and Sara Pultman are married for eight years.

A great quote from Avi Pultman:

“Walking the halls of the Home and meeting some of the girls, the positive impact that Lev La Lev has on these children and young women is profoundly obvious. My wife and I are truly grateful that we are able to be a part of such a special organization.”

Thanks to friends like the Pultmans, the girls at the Home are truly blessed.

-Chava Yelloz

Lev LaLev ‘Inside our Home’ e-newsletter editor

 
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Sarina (middle) at the Gala
Sheena,

It was so nice meeting you in person on such a happy and emotional day!

I want to thank you and Bracha for giving us such a beautiful opportunity to celebrate the girls Bat Mitzva. It was so emotional for me and for Sarina to be there. We felt so connected to the girls. Sarina felt like they were all her sisters and I felt like they were all my daughters. Watching the video [made by the girls at the Home] for both times at the beginning and the end brought tears to my eyes. 


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Sarina (far left) standing with all the other Bat Mitzvah ladies
Driving back from Bat Mitzva we couldn't stop talking about how well everything was organized and planned from the hall, tables arrangements, girls dresses and hairstyles. I can't describe our joy for those girls. From the moment when we first found out about the girls we felt connected to them, but celebrating  their Bat Mitzva together brought us even closer to the girls.

Thank you again for giving us such a great opportunity of being part of girl's lives. 

Lana Hilowitz


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Sheena with Lana and her daughters (left) at the Gala. Bracha, Director of the Home, stands far right.
 
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Name: Naomie Ryba 
Town: Teaneck, NJ
Bat Mitzvah Date: December 16, 2012
Mitzvah Project: Making bracelets for the girls at the Children’s Home in Netanya.

Tell us a little about yourself: I am very much into fashion! I have 4 siblings, but I am the oldest. I also love ice skating, basketball, and reading.

How did you decide to take on this particular project for Lev LaLev? I went on the internet with my mom and we found Lev LaLev using google!

What was the most meaningful part of doing this Mitzvah Project for your Bat Mitzvah? It was when I saw how much money my family and friends gave to help the girls in Israel!

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Please share any details or fond memories of your Mitzvah Project and Bat Mitzvah. Everybody enjoyed making the bracelets. It was so much fun! 

What are your plans for the future, i.e. life after Bat Mitzvah? To become a true bat mitzvah!

Please share your advice for a girl looking into doing a Mitzvah Project for her Bat Mitzvah. Lev LaLev is amazing, and it is so meaningful to have shared my bat mitzvah with these girls from Israel!


 
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Will you be in Israel this Passover?  Do you know someone who will? Looking for an amazing Chol Ha’Moed activity for the whole family?

Get some great scenic exercise, and help disadvantaged young women at the same time!

We hope you will take advantage of an amazing new opportunity to raise funds for Lev LaLev – while touring Israel and having the time of your life with your friends and family.

Our partner Cycle for Unity (www.cycleforunity.org) has organized two amazing Chol HaMoed cycling adventures:

Cycling Adventure #1: Blaze the Burma Road – Thursday, March 28

Cycling Adventure #2: No Place Like Northern Israel – Sunday, March 31

What makes this family activity different from all other family activities? Riders can raise funds for Lev LaLev with every kilometer they ride! 

Space is limited and reservations must be made in advance, so be sure to register today: http://cycleforunity.org/apply/


 
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You may be surprised to find that "becoming bar/bat mitzvah" happens automatically when a Jewish boy reaches the age of 13 and a girl, age 12. The ceremony that today occupies center stage is actually a historical afterthought, with evidence of observance starting only from sometime between the 14th and 16th centuries.

Unlike boys, there isn't as long a history of coming-of-age rituals for girls* and young women are not bound by age-old traditions like young Jewish men. An early bat mitzvah usually followed the same format as a bar mitzvah, however, because women are not traditionally required to perform many of the more public mitzvot (commandments), an authoritarian ceremony made little sense. Therefore, as observant women have become more Judaically educated, they are eager to create meaningful rituals unique to a bat mitzvah.

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celebrating with a women only theatre perfomance
Since the bat mitzvah is still a relatively new idea that continues to evolve, the modern bat mitzvah varies depending on your congregation. Still, young Jewish women have more freedom to express themselves at a bat mitzvah. Without a binding centuries-old tradition to follow, you can be innovative and creative in shaping the ceremony and celebration.

Some girls choose to observe the occasion by giving talks either on the Torah portion or some personally meaningful aspect of their involvement in Judaism. Another influence on the development of a bat mitzvah within Orthodoxy is the women's prayer group.

Since some Jewish sages have said that tzedakah is the highest of all the mitzvot, equal to them all combined, more and more bat mitzvah girls worldwide are now choosing to celebrate with a tzedakah project; something to benefit those less fortunate. Carrying on the tradition of chesed, loving-kindness displayed by the Jewish foremothers, who shaped the course of Jewish history; this new tradition has even had an impact on the modern bar mitzvah ceremony!

Your bat mitzvah experience is even more special when you enrich the lives of others! Jewish tradition teaches that we deepen our happiness when we share our joyous celebrations with people in need. This is especially important as you prepare for a bat mitzvah, when you become an adult and accept responsibility for fulfilling the important mitzvah of tzedakah.

There are so many options to select or create a project that matches your own personal skills and interests. One may elect to give a portion of gift money to a charity which reflects these interests. Another wonderful way to share the joy of your bat mitzvah is to donate the flowers, centerpieces, extra baked goods and food to a hospital, homeless and/or children's shelter, senior home, or other recipient. They will be delighted, and you will truly be performing a mitzvah.

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American bat mitzvah girls celebrate in Israel
Put the mitzvah in bat mitzvah…Lev LaLev joins hands with bat mitzvah girls, Just Like YOU! The Torah commands us to care for the orphan and to never forget our Holy Land…join hands with bat mitzvah girls from around the globe in planning your very own Mitzvah Project to support orphaned girls in Israel!

Together we can help you brainstorm ideas to start your journey as a Jewish adult with a meaningful contribution that fits your personality and favorite hobbies. Contact Sheena Levi at sheena@levlalev.com or call 1-800-630-1106. Learn more about what we do: www.levlalev.com/batmitzvah

* By the 14th century, sources mention a boy being called up to the Torah for the first time on the Sabbath coinciding with or following his 13th birthday. By the 17th century, boys were also reading Torah and delivering talks, often on talmudic learning, at an afternoon seudat mitzvah (ritual meal). Today the speech, usually a commentary on the weekly Torah portion, generally takes place during the morning service.

Historians discovered evidence that families began honoring their daughters with a special meal for their 12th birthday in countries such as France, Italy, and Germany only about 200 years ago. Since girls physically mature at an earlier age than boys, twelve, not thirteen, was the age chosen for a Jewish girl's passage into adulthood. However, it wasn't until 1922 that the first bat mitzvah in North America was celebrated, but most Jewish girls did not have an opportunity to become a bat mitzvah in a synagogue ceremony until the 1950s, or later.

 
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Name: Lisa Stein
Town:
Allentown, PA
Bat Mitzvah Date:
May 2012
Mitzvah Project:

Part 1 – Raising money online for a girl from the Rubin-Zeffren home to have a Bat Mitzvah celebration
Part 2 – Talent Show to raise money for the music program at the girls’ home

Tell us a little about yourself
I am 13 years old. I play the cello and sing and love music! I have an older brother who is starting college. He’s a great violinist, and we enjoy playing music together, especially at erev Shabbat services at our synagogue. In school, I enjoy orchestra, math, creative writing and working with my school’s TV station. I also like to ride my bicycle with my Dad and take photos with my Mom.

How did you decide to take on this particular project for Lev LaLev?
When searching for a mitzvah project, I was sure that I wanted to pick a project that somehow related to helping other children. My family had been buying Rosh Hashanah cards from Lev LaLev. When writing one of the cards and admiring the beautiful drawing on the front of the card, I asked my mom who had drawn it. She said a child probably the same age as me or younger had created the artwork; I was surprised and intrigued.

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I looked at the Lev LaLev website and found tons of information about the orphanage. Most of the girls there were abused and did not feel safe at home. Lev LaLev takes them in as their own, and the girls are finally able to feel happy and secure in their new home. One of the many interesting facts that I found is that a Bat Mitzvah can be sponsored. Everything fell into place; I wanted to help another child, and the girls at this orphanage do not get the privilege of a Bat Mitzvah ceremony and celebration as I do. 

What was the most meaningful part of doing this Mitzvah Project for your Bat Mitzvah?
It was seeing the pure happiness on the Bat Mitzvah girls’ face when Sheena sent me pictures from her celebration. As soon as I saw her joy, I knew I had helped make a change in her life.

Please share any details or fond memories of your Mitzvah Project and Bat Mitzvah.
I was amazed that the donations kept pouring in relatively constantly, and I was really able to raise more than $1,800. I enjoyed being lifted up in a chair during my celebration on Saturday night and then seeing a picture of my Bat Mitzvah twin being lifted up in a chair during her celebration. I also loved seeing so many of my friends and family at my services and party.  

What are your plans for the future, i.e. life after Bat Mitzvah?
I am going to host the talent show in October to raise some money for the music program at the orphanage. From there on, I hope to continue my Jewish lifestyle and raise money for important causes.  

Anything else you would like to share about your experience with Lev LaLev, Bat Mitzvah or Mitzvah Project?
Sheena and Chavi have been so supportive and sweet throughout the whole experience, so if you have any questions about your project, contact them!

Please share your advice for a girl looking into doing a Mitzvah Project for her Bat Mitzvah.
Follow your heart, and you will help the hearts of others.

Join Lisa on October 14th, share your talent and support the music program at the orphanage in Israel!  
 
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(left to right) Sheena holding the necklaces made for the girls in Israel, Racheli with her special Lev LaLev mitzvah plaque, and Racheli’s mom Bernice in the Lev LaLev offices
Name: Racheli Wolicki
Town:
  Spring Valley, NY
Bat Mitzvah Date:
June 2012
Mitzvah Project:
Decorating pencils and making necklaces for the orphaned girls in Israel

Tell us a little about yourself.
I take karate every Monday and Thursday. I have an older brother and a younger sister. 

How did you decide to take on this particular project for Lev LaLev?
I really wanted to help disadvantaged people, especially girls my age, who don’t have as much as me. This seemed like a good idea and it was.

What was the most meaningful part of doing this Mitzvah Project for your Bat Mitzvah?
Getting to help make the girls happy and give them something nice.

Please share any details or fond memories of your Mitzvah Project and Bat Mitzvah.
My friends and family really enjoyed doing the project at my Bat Mitzvah. They really enjoyed being creative with the pencils and writing the heartfelt notes to the orphans.















What are your plans for the future, i.e. life after Bat Mitzvah?
I plan to try and do mitzvahs every chance I get and try to help people whenever I can.

Anything else you would like to share about your experience with Lev LaLev, Bat Mitzvah or Mitzvah Project?
It was a really great experience knowing that we were not only having a good time, but also thinking about others. It made my Bat Mitzvah so much more meaningful.

Please share your advice for a girl looking into doing a Mitzvah Project for her Bat Mitzvah.
Do it, because it gives you a great feeling and you will feel so great afterwards.

 
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In 3 short weeks we will be celebrating Rosh Hashana. Please help us make it a great year for the Lev LaLev orphans!

Every year, Lev LaLev sells beautiful hand-drawn cards to help spread joy for the upcoming Jewish New Year. All proceeds go to benefit the Orphanage in Israel. 


And YOU can help!

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Email or Print out this special flyer and share it with your family, friends, in your home community, synagogues, schools, the JCC, etc.

Send me a picture (email: sheena@levlalev.com) of you next to flyers you posted and get 5 free Rosh Hashana cards with your own order from www.levlalev.com/rhcards  



Thanks for being such awesome Beyond Bat Mitzvah ladies! 

 
originally posted on 08/02/2012 by Leah Caras on yaldah.com
Tell us what becoming a Bat Mitzvah means to you, and  you could win a beautiful sterling silver key necklace!

We’re looking for an essay 400-700 words from a girl who has either already celebrated her Bat Mitzvah, or is looking forward to celebrating it in the future. The essay should be either a reflection of the importance of becoming a Bat Mitzvah and how it has affected your life, or what you are looking forward to about becoming a Bat Mitzvah and what you expect to learn and gain from the experience.

Eligibility: Author must be a Jewish girl age 8-15
Essay Guidelines: 

1. Essay should be written in the first person.

2. It should be between 400-700 words.

3. It should focus on the significance of becoming a Jewish woman, not the celebration of a Bat Mitzvah party.

To Enter: Submit your essay using the form below or email to submit@yaldah.com. When you email a submission, make sure to include the entrant’s full name, date of birth, state, and  e-mail address. Entries must be received by August 31, 2012.

Judging: Essays will be judged as follows: 40% content, 30% relevance to topic, 20% creativity, 10% spelling & grammar.

Prize: The grand prize winner will win a sterling silver “key” necklace (pictured above) from The Sterling Society.  The pendant is 1.45 inches and comes with a choice of a 16” or 18” Italian chain. The winning essay will also be published in YALDAH magazine. A number of “runner-up” essays will be published in the Bat Mitzvah section of www.yaldah.com.

Prize is sponsored by The Sterling Society. To receive 10% off your purchase at TheSterlingSociety.com use the promo code YALDAH10.