While a Bar or Bat Mitzvah is not an “adult” by any measure today, the onset of the teen years certainly is the beginning of the gradual transition into adulthood.  As such, one of the most important lessons of adulthood that Wise seeks to teach our Bar or Bat Mitzvah is that Jewish adults have a responsibility to repair our broken world – Tikkun Olam.  We cannot be bystanders or merely passive passengers through life, we must be actively engaged in the world because it needs us to be more whole.  It is for this reason that the Tikkun Olam project is an integral part of our preparations preceding the actual Bar/Bat Mitzvah service.  

To assist our families in guiding their Bar/Bat Mitzvah student towards choosing a meaningful Tikkun Olam project, we’ve prepared this web page with project ideas, links to resources, a form to complete so that the staff at Wise will be aware of your project and can offer assistance to you as well as guide you to partnership with other students interested in similar work. Additionally, we encourage all our students to document their work with photos and a brief explanation to post on ourBar or Bat Mitzvah Tikkun Olam blog here.  

Choosing your Tikkun Olam project
B’nai Mitzvah Profiles

visit these websites  and see our list below for help brainstorming a project

http://volunteer.bjela.org/

https://www.themitzvahbowl.com/

https://kidworldcitizen.org/35-service-projects-for-kids/

This list is a suggested guide but if you have a passion about a cause or an organization you want to work with, you are still welcome to work with them!

Environment

Homelessness

Food on Foot:

  • Organization description:   Food on Foot is a non-profit organization dedicated to assisting the poor and homeless of Los Angeles through programs that provide nutritious meals, clothing, work opportunities and ultimately the transition to full-time employment and life off the streets.
  • Project description: You can help distribute food and clothing to the homeless and poor on any Sunday, from 3:15pm to 5:00pm, in our Hollywood location (1625 N. Schrader Blvd.) Volunteering requires a $20 donation, for both children and adults.
  • Age:  Anyone 17 and under must be accompanied by an adult
  • website: https://www.foodonfoot.org

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Hope Mill

  • Organization Description: Hope Mill was formed out of a commitment to help those who find themselves homeless. We do this by providing food and other basic necessities, along with a message of hope and an affirmation that people care. We began by filling backpacks with essential care items and distributing them to homeless persons on the streets in Southern California. Now, in addition to street distributions, our volunteers carefully put together backpacks for men, women and children, and deliver them to local missions and shelters, where they are distributed to those who are in need. All items are new and carefully chosen to address fundamental needs for personal care, as well as a comfort item or two
  • Project Description:
    • attending one of our general CarePack Assembly days, held monthly
    • arranging a private “CarPak” assembly where the participants take the CarPaks with them (they Pay it Forward) — this project involves reimbursement for the contents of the packs
    • conducting drives for Wish List items
    • creating centerpieces for your event which are made up of Hope Mill Wish List items, which are later donated to Hope Mill
  • Age: 12 and up
  • Website: www.hopemill.com

 

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LA Family Housing

  • Organization description: LA Family Housing helps people transition out of homelessness and poverty by providing a continuum of housing enriched with supportive services.
  • Project Description: Collect items for welcome home baskets, outreach bags or organize an encouragement note writing party.
  • Age: These are the recommended projects for those under 15.
  • Website: https://lafh.org/opportunities-for-adults/

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School on Wheels

  • Organization description: School on Wheels provides academic tutoring to children living in shelters, motels, cars, group foster homes and on the streets in Southern California. We provide homeless students stability in a time of stress and transition, and help them achieve educational success so that they may break the cycle of homelessness and poverty.
  • Project description: Click here to see how volunteers as young as 12 (with an adult present) can serve as tutors to homeless students.
  • Age: 12, with an adult family member or guardian

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Environment

Mountain Trust

  • Organization description MRT is dedicated to working to renew and restore degraded, damaged, or destroyed habitats in the Santa Monica Mountains. The Santa Monica Mountains are one of the largest intact and most significant examples of Mediterranean-type ecosystems in the world. The climate of this ecosystem is characterized by wet winters and warm, dry summers.  The Mediterranean-type ecosystem along with the diverse topography has created a landscape filled with unique natural resources.  This ecosystem has been identified as one of the world’s “hot spots” for biodiversity.  Biodiversity “hot spots” have large numbers of endemic species – those found nowhere else and that are heavily threatened by habitat loss and other human activities.
  • Project description Attend a trail or river cleanup
  • Age 12 and up
  • Website www.mountaintrust.org

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Tree People

  • Organization description:  TreePeople is an environmental nonprofit organization whose mission is to inspire, engage and support people to take personal responsibility for the urban environment, making it safe, healthy, fun and sustainable and to share our process as a model for the world.
  • Project description: Trees need people, and people need trees – especially in urban areas. Volunteers are needed to help us plant and care for trees throughout greater LA. We plant trees on streets, at schools and in parks. Once the trees are planted, we commit to caring for them for five years.
    Urban Forestry volunteer events take place on weekends throughout the year in different locations around the region. Events take place from 9:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. Volunteers of all ages and skill levels are welcome and no previous training is necessary. Pre-register on their website (https://www.treepeople.org/calendar)
  • Age:  People under the age of 18 not accompanied by their parent or guardian must provide a parental consent form at the event. In the Angeles National Forest specifically, volunteers under the age of 16 must be accompanied by a parent or guardian.
  • website: https://www.treepeople.org/volunteer

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Compassionate Friends and Mentoring

The Book Truck

  • Organization description: Our programming is designed to encourage even the most reluctant readers: we carry the books that teens want the most and staff our truck with a diverse group of trained teen volunteers who make informed book recommendations to their peers and help them select the “right” book. Read more what makes us unique here.Empowering teens around books paves the way toward a brighter future. We help teens fall in love with reading who may never do so without The Book Truck, giving them a chance to create a pathway out of poverty.
  • Project description: book drive, collect books at the temple and school, usually individual, link to amazon wish list, bring a book from wishlist, book truck will come for a book sort, only collect YA books.
  • Age: collect at any age, to be a recommender you must be 13
  • Website:  http://www.thebooktruck.org/

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Friendship Circle

  • Organization description: The Friendship Circle’s mission is (1) to provide Jewish children who have special needs with a full range of social, recreational, educational and Judaic experiences; (2) to provide their parents with respite and support; and (3) to enrich, inspire and motivate Jewish teenagers through sharing of themselves with others.
  • Project description:
    • MVP program ( Mitzvah Volunteer Program) It is a 4 week orientation program that teaches volunteers how to interact with children who have special needs. Volunteers will learn about various disabilities through interactive activities, appropriate conduct when volunteering, the importance of giving back to the community and the huge impact they can make on  others. After completing the 4 sessions they will culminate in a volunteering experience here at our facility. This is also a good way to incorporate our organization as part of  a Bnei Mitzvah project. The next session takes place in March and RSVP are required.
    • Volunteers are also able to attend Birthday Bash, Holiday programs, Basketball club and in some cases Friends At home
  • Age 12 and up
  • Website http://www.fcla.org/

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Make Shabbat Boxes for Wise Hearts to Deliver to Hospital Patients

  • Our own Bat Mitzvah student, Lily Turndorf has started our Shabbat Box Program and invites other Bar and Bat Mitzvah Students to help make these heartwarming and healing gifts for community members in hospitals during Shabbat.
  • Project Description: Consider making Shabbat Boxes for Wise Hearts!  It is a box that contains a beautifully decorated challah cover by you, a challah roll, 2 LED Shabbat candles,  grape juice, mints and the Shabbat prayers.  Our clergy and Wise Hearts committee members will deliver boxes when they visit Wise members who are in the hospital for extended periods of time.  Lily’s hope is that this becomes an ongoing project that future B’nai Mitzvah students will take on as their own Tikkun Olam project so that we can make more boxes to keep the program going.  Lily has also asked friends and family to donate to Wise Hearts to be able to continue to fund this amazing project (other Bar and Bat Mitzvah students can do the same).  It’s Lily’s hope that “this project brings our Wise members some sunshine on their path to healing.”
  • Age: B’nai Mitzvah students.
  • For more information: Contact Lily Turndorf at lvibutterfly@yahoo.com

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ETTA

  • Organization Description:  ETTA serves people with intellectual and developmental disabilities, and their families, and is one of the premier providers of such services on the West Coast. ETTA’s services include residential housing, case management, employment training and placement, educational services and social services.   Student volunteers will work directly with special needs clients of all ages at Etta Israel on a variety of projects.  Time is flexible and opportunities are varied.
  • Age: This is a perfect hands-on project for a Bar/Bat Mitzvah student.  Contact Leah Schachter at Etta for more information. (818) 439-5951
  • Website etta.org/mitzvahproject

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School on Wheels

  • Organization description: School on Wheels provides academic tutoring to children living in shelters, motels, cars, group foster homes and on the streets in Southern California. We provide homeless students stability in a time of stress and transition, and help them achieve educational success so that they may break the cycle of homelessness and poverty.
  • Project description: Click here to see how volunteers as young as 12 (with an adult present) can serve as tutors to homeless students.
  • Age: 12, with an adult family member or guardian

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Wise Readers To Leaders

  • 7th and 8th graders may now serve as remote readers for Wise’s premier summer Literacy Program serving the LAUSD community.
  • Read via the phone to a k-3 grader once per week.
  • Books provided by Wise Readers to Leaders.
  • WRTL staff will also trained the 7th or 8th grader to be a mentoring reading buddy
  • For more information, click here.

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Israel and World Jewry

American Friends of Israel Sports Center for The Disabled

  • Organization: The Israel Sport Center for the Disabled is one of the world pioneers in the field of sports rehabilitation. The Center opened its gates in 1960 and specializes in the physical and psychological rehabilitation of children and youth. For almost 60 years, it’s remarkable staff and volunteers have encouraged the disabled to participate in a variety of sports activities and to benefit from the countless ways in which sports is healing.
  • Project Description:  Help collect and raise funds to purchase a state-of-the-art wheelchair for disabled youth to participate in wheelchair basketball. Each teen fundraiser will receive their own page on the ISCD website to help promote their efforts.
  • website: http://www.afiscd.org

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Tech for Teens:
Share your mitzvah with teens in Israel

  • Organization description:  NA’AMAT USA is a nonprofit volunteer organization that partners with NA’AMAT Israel to provide vital educational and social services for women, children and families in need, in Israel.
  • Project description:  Consider including NA’AMAT in your wonderful celebration! Our TECH 4 TEENS Program is designed specifically for you.
    Some teenagers in Israel aren’t quite as fortunate as you are. Some come from underprivileged backgrounds, have learning disabilities, family problems, behavioral issues and other challenges. NA’AMAT creates a safe, empowering environment for these troubled teens struggling in traditional high schools. With 20 Technological high schools and 2 residential youth villages, we offer training in communications, photography, computer graphics and culinary skills as well as basic academic subjects. However, as technology evolves, we need to provide the tools our students need to excel. They lack the basics – computers, software, printers, cameras, projectors, all the things we may take for granted. NA’AMAT gives these teens a second chance. They gain confidence, self-esteem, acquire professional and vocational skills that enable them to graduate and become productive citizens of Israel. With your help, our students can thrive and succeed through our Tech 4 Teens program. Partner with Tech for Teens by: donating a portion of your money to support our technological high schools in Israel, encourage your family and guests to make donations to NA’AMAT USA in honor of your bar/bat mitzvah, mention your mitzvah project in your speech or as part of your event invitation, and/or provide information about Tech 4 Teens from NA’AMAT to display on the tables or as part of a centerpiece
  • Age:  B’nai Mitzvah Students
  • website: https://naamat.org/naamat-has-over-20-technological-and-agricultural-high-schools-helping-over-3500-students/

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Los Angeles Museum of the Holocaust

  • Organization description:  LAMOTH dedicates itself as a primary source institution, one that commemorates those who perished and honors those who survived by housing the precious artifacts that miraculously weathered the Holocaust. LAMOTH provides free Holocaust education to the public, particularly students from underfunded schools and underserved communities. We are committed to providing opportunities for dialogue with Holocaust Survivors, who are the living embodiment of history.
  • Project description:
    • The Museum’s B’nai Mitzvah: Acts of Memory project allows students preparing for Bar or Bat mitzvah to remember a child who perished in the Holocaust, learn about the Holocaust and Jewish life before the Holocaust, and meet a Holocaust survivor in our community.
    • Museum staff work with Los Angeles-area families to create a meaningful, age-appropriate experience for each Bar and Bat Mitzvah students
  • Age: B’nai Mitzvah Students
  • website:  http://www.lamoth.org/education–resources/bnai-mitzvah-acts-of-memory/

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Los Angeles and The World

Jewish World Watch:

  • Organization description: Jewish World Watch (JWW) works to end genocide and mass atrocities worldwide by educating and mobilizing individuals, advocating for policy changes and funding projects to support and build resilience in conflict-affected communities.
  • Project description: Your particular project starts with you. What do you think is wrong with the world? What problem would you hope to solve? Thinking about what keeps you up at night and talking about it with your parents, friends or rabbi will bring clarity and help you choose an issue that is right for you.
    Once you have come up with a particular concern and have identified an area in which you can make an impact, think about how much time you have, what resources you have, what obstacles you might face, and who can assist or partner with you. With these things in mind, you can set your goals and figure out what is practical for you to accomplish.
    Next, think about what you are good at and what you like to do. Most people start working on a mitzvah project during the year leading up to their Bar/Bat mitzvah service. Think about what could be interesting enough that you would want to do it for a whole year. (taken from mitzvah project guide: http://www.jww.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/09/BnaiMitzvahGuide.pdf)
  • Age:
  • Website: http://www.jww.org/take-action/student-activism/bnai-mitzvah-projects/

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Big Sunday

  • Organization description: Big Sunday connects people through helping. We provide a wide variety of opportunities and projects that bring people together to improve lives, build community and give people a sense of belonging.
  • Project description: Visit their website to see a community calendar of different events happening across Southern California – you can even search by what interests you!
  • Age: each project is different, so please read the descriptions closely to be sure you fit the requirements.
  • Website: calendar.bigsunday.org

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Food Forward:

  • Organization description: Food Forward rescues fresh local produce that would otherwise go to waste, connecting this abundance with people in need, and inspiring others to do the same.
  • Project description:
    • our Farmers Markets are still the best way for students to get involved. We collect fresh, local produce that would otherwise go to waste at 19 weekly Farmers Markets and donate 100% to local hunger-relief agencies. Volunteers help us collect donations of fresh produce from vendors at the Farmers Market and box, sort, and weigh the produce. Volunteers should be comfortable carrying boxes of produce that may weigh up to 40 pounds, but don’t need to worry about bringing equipment or transporting the food. This opportunity is open to volunteers 12 years old and older, though children under 16 years old must be accompanied by an adult.
    • Students can also volunteer at our Backyard Harvest Fruit Picks. Volunteers help us pick as much fruit as possible from trees, and pack it into boxes to be donated. Volunteers should be comfortable picking and carrying boxes of fruit, but don’t need to worry about bringing equipment or transporting the fruit. This opportunity is open to volunteers 5 years old and older, though children under 16 years old must be accompanied by an adult.
    • Students can also contribute 1-2 additional volunteer hours by creating some sort of project based on your volunteer experience. This can be a blog piece, short video, or photo-essay. This project should be something that they can share with friends and other students, and also something that Food Forward could share with our community.We don’t have any strict requirements for this, but it should be something that takes thought and work, and should promote Food Forward’s mission. Students can earn 1-2 additional hours of service for this project, but they must have volunteered at Food Forward Harvests or Farmers Markets prior to beginning their project. Please submit this to volunteer@foodforward.org in order to have it count towards your volunteer hours.
  • Age: under 16 must be accompanied by an adult
  • Website: https://foodforward.org/

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