Sam Levine, 13, a participant in UJA-Federation of New York’s Give a Mitzvah, Do a Mitzvah program, wanted to provide computers and additional technology to teens in need and raised $25,000 to support youth at our Westchester campus’ Mann Center. We sat down with Sam to talk about why he wanted to help #BuildHope for youth in his community, and what he learned from the experience.
What made you decide to participate in the Give a Mitzvah Do a Mitzvah program?
For my Bar Mitzvah, I decided that doing a mitzvah seemed fitting. I am so grateful for everything I have and wanted to use this opportunity to help others. Meeting the staff and hearing how my mitzvah project could impact the residents really motivated me to dream big. In addition, past UJA mitzvah projects of friends and family inspired me to be a part of this special program.
What particularly, about enhancing technology at the Mann Center, got you most energized and enthusiastic? Why do you think this is an important project?
In this day and age, technology is a critical part of daily life. For kids my age, technology is so important for both education and recreation, and most of us probably take it for granted. When I learned that these teens had hardly any access to technology, I wanted to help change that. More importantly, I knew that I could be part of developing a solution. It seemed really unfair to me that these teens, through no fault of their own, lacked meaningful access to technology.
If you were asked to give advice to another kid thinking about their own bar/bat mitzvah project, what would you say?
Participating in the Give a Mitzvah Do a Mitzvah program has been so meaningful to me. I would highly encourage other kids to consider this program and to remember that what they do really can make a difference. I hadn’t fully grasped the idea that I was making a difference until I started to add up the donations. I am really excited for the teens of Hawthorne Cedar Knolls that we have raised nearly $25,000. My parents and I recently met again with the staff, and I was very excited to discuss the plans for using the funds and how I can be personally involved.
For anyone raising money as part of a mitzvah project, my advice is don’t just ask for donations. Choose something you are passionate about, and help others to understand why you care. You need to remember that you can make a difference that will be life changing.
What kind of feedback did you get from friends and family about your project?
Both before and after my Bar Mitzvah, I was amazed by how many of my friends and family shared with me their enthusiasm for my mitzvah project. Everyone was so generous, and I felt lucky to have so much support. It was really fulfilling to help bring technology to other teens.
I am proud to have raised money for this worthy cause, and I am grateful to UJA and The Jewish Board for telling me about this opportunity and supporting my project.