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how mitzvah projects make me want to punch someone in the face

by marjorieingall on March 14, 2013

That was my suggested title for this week’s Tablet magazine column, about social-action and fundraising projects for Bar and Bat Mitzvah kids. I have no idea why Tablet wouldn’t go for it.

Seriously, I was blown away by the kindness and ingenuity of some of these kids and grownups, and the thoughtfulness of Rabbi Jill Jacobs of Tru’ah. I recommend her book Where Justice Dwells: A Hands-On Guide to Doing Social Justice in Your Jewish Community, and not just for parents of Bar and Bat Mitzvah students; it’s a very readable resource for any individual or communal organization thinking about volunteering, donating or organizing.

An aside: I really appreciated Jacobs’s perspective on not letting kids think of themselves as the heroic white saviors of downtrodden brown people. I liked the way she reminds us, constantly, to discuss longtime inequities and people’s efforts from within a community to help others. I was reminded of my time sitting in on Columbia University admissions for a Sassy story, and my own experience doing alumni interviews for Harvard: So many essays on My Semester In Guatemala/Honduras/Costa Rica and What It Taught Me! So much lyyyyyricism about the noble savages and their rough magical education of white youth! (Cue “I am Africa” from The Book of Mormon.) (God I love that song.) Do not let your child write this essay.


{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Marti May 16, 2013 at 3:53 pm

Have you ever considered writing an e-book or guest authoring on other blogs?
I have a blog based on the same subjects you discuss and would really like to have you share
some stories/information. I know my readers would enjoy your work.
If you’re even remotely interested, feel free to shoot me an email.

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