A Gift for my Cousin, Shelley
Preparing for a bar/bat mitzvah is about more than learning one’s Haftorah and getting ready for the big celebration. In synagogues across the country, bar/bat mitzvah students are required to undertake a community service project to engage in the mitzvah of Tikkun Olam – repairing the world.
For Alex Harwood, a seventh grader at Somers Middle School in Somers, N.Y., selecting his Mitzvah Project was simple and easy. “I did this to honor the memory of my mom’s cousin, Shelley. She needed a bone marrow transplant and Alex learned from her experience that finding a good match is often difficult.
Alex partnered with the Gift of Life Bone Marrow Foundation to host a recruitment drive at his synagogue, Beth Elohim, in Brewster, NY. “My family is familiar with Gift of Life,” Alex said, “my cousin, mom, Aunt Diane and Uncle Barry all knew about Gift of Life. In fact, Uncle Barry is an old friend of Jay (Feinberg).”
Working on this project was fun for Alex as it became a family affair with everyone working to make the drive a huge success. Additionally he got help from his friends and the support of the temple community. “Everyone was talking about my Mitzvah Project because it was so different than what other kids in my b’nai mitzvah class did for their projects,” Alex commented. Along with advertising, friends and family used Facebook to spread the word about the upcoming drive. Alex was pleased with the results of the drive which exceeded his goal. The day of the drive more than 50 individuals swabbed and joined the Gift of Life registry. Also, Alex received financial donations from people to help pay for processing the test kits…“some came from people I don’t even know”, Alex said.
Alex and his rabbi plan to find someone in next year’s b’nai mitzvah class to take on this project. One of Alex’s wishes would be if this could become an ongoing project and handed down year after year. And, when he turns 18, Alex plans on joining the registry. For Alex, the most important lesson he learned from working on his Mitzvah project is “it only takes one person to save someone’s life!” That person could be you! Check out our calendar of upcoming recruitment drives or register online.
Gift of Life encourages volunteers of all ages to take part in our life-saving work. Your support will help heighten awareness and raise funds to process test kits. To learn more about the Mitzvah Project, contact Susan Greenspan at 561-982-2900 ext 2928 or firstname.lastname@example.org.