Carol Goodman Kaufman
Carol Goodman Kaufman
Carol Goodman Kaufman chairs Hadassah's Youth Aliyah B'nai Mitzvah program

Hadassah Launches B’nai Mitzvah Project for At-Risk Youth

Youth Aliyah students in the animal therapy program. All photos courtesy of Hadassah, the Women's Zionist Organization of America

As I listen to the news from Israel with my heart in my mouth, my thoughts go to those I have come to think of as my adopted children there: the students at Hadassah’s Youth Aliyah villages.

These at-risk youth, among the most vulnerable of the nation’s population, come to us from around the world and from the streets of Israel to find a home and a future. About one-third are young immigrants who come to Israel — alone — from countries in the FSU where it is no longer safe to live as a Jew. In fact, their parents, hoping to protect them, don’t even tell them that they are Jewish until they are teenagers. The rest of our students have family, but suffer from severe emotional, behavioral, and learning problems stemming from poverty, neglect and abuse.

And now, with rockets raining down on their homes, they face a true life-and-death threat.

By contrast, our teens here in the United States live their lives relatively free from existential worry.

We at Hadassah had an idea. Since most kids in the U.S. are required to do a tikkun olam project while preparing for their b’nai mitzvah, why not make Youth Aliyah their special mitzvah project?

Hadassah’s B’nai Mitzvah Project is designed to educate and empower young Jewish American students while raising much-needed funds for Youth Aliyah,

B’nai mitzvah students are the same age as the youngest children in our Youth Aliyah villages, making this project a powerful way for our teens to empathize with kids who struggle. By taking part in this program, they can help teens who, just like them, have hopes and dreams but who face serious economic, emotional, and social challenges.

What better way to commemorate this special milestone in their lives than by helping others in need?

I invite you to join us in the truly transformative work Hadassah does in our youth villages.

To learn more, please visit mitzvahproject.

About the Author
After earning a Ph.D. in psychology, Carol Goodman Kaufman pursued post-doctoral work in criminology, during which time she wrote the book Sins of Omission: The Jewish Community's Reaction to Domestic Violence. A few years ago, she changed direction and began conducting research on food history, and now pens regular columns for both Jewish press and the Worcester Telegram & Gazette as well as freelance articles for regional and national publications. Her volunteer life spans four decades, and includes leadership positions with local, regional, and national organizations.
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