A guide to good deeds

The simple meaning of the word of “mitzvah” is deeply rooted in history: a biblical connotation that embraces many interpretations. Among those definitions, “mitzvah” means a good deed.

Included in these good deeds are charity and philanthropic projects. Involving children in such work helps bring the family together over a common goal to serve others and the community. The opportunities are countless for children to help other youth around the world.

Mitzvahs are perpetually revered, especially in Jewish households when 13-year-old children celebrate their bar or bat mitzvahs.

“They’re really just at the beginning of their journey,” said Julie Newman of the National Council of Jewish Women Chicago North Shore Section, an organization that is featured later in this magazine.

Newman said the bar or bat mitzvah, “really means that you’re taking on the responsibilities of becoming a Jewish adult.”

One way some families choose to honor this important step is by undertaking a mitzvah project. Some children incorporate a mitzvah project as part of their bar or bat mitzvah celebration.

“We have a bar and bat mitzvah program,” said Stuart Nitzkin who is the national executive director of the Deerfield-based American Friends of the Israel Sport Center for the Disabled (AFISCD).

“A lot of kids pick charitable projects as their bar and bat mitzvah project,” Nitzkin said. “We offer our organization as one of those places.”

The AFISCD creates a mitzvah project website for each child going through this process. Some bar/bat mitzvah celebrations may have table centerpieces, for example, which contain elements of mitzvah project goodwill. Photographs of each child are featured at www.fiscd.org with a synopsis of mitzvah project goals.

The purpose of this Mitzvah Guide is to honor awareness about the wealth of charitable organizations welcoming bat/bar mitzvah families.

A good deed is similar to a pebble tossed in water. The ripple effect is endless. Read more about the mission of the two organizations Stuart Nitzkin and Julie Newman represent. Ask questions of other charitable providers in your community.