Don’t Underestimate the Power of a Penny

June 20, 2018

4 min read

What happens when 30 Australian teenagers agree to collect charity for an orphan in Israel? Lives change!

A dedicated group of 13-year-old young men joined together to collect funds to sponsor the Bar Mitzvah of an orphaned Israeli. With determination and creativity, the group raised AUS$2,034 (US$1,513.97).

“Last year, I traveled to Australia and spoke with students at Yeshiva College in Melbourne,” Rabbi Menachem Traxler, Director of Volunteering for Colel Chabad, explained to Breaking Israel News. “The students were moved by the stories of Israeli children who had lost a parent to terror attacks or illness and wanted to help.”

As the longest running charity in the Holy Land, Colel Chabad maintains an extensive network of social welfare programs including soup kitchens, Meals-on-Wheels for the homebound and Holocaust survivors, hospital summer camps for sick kids, daycare for children of single mothers, holiday food packages and clothing for the poor, medical care, special programs for widows and orphans, and more.

This group of Australian children chose to raise money to bring joy to an orphaned boy who would soon be celebrating his Bar Mitzvah and to help feed a family who lost a father in a terror attack.

“As part of their school’s Bar Mitzvah preparations, students are taught the importance of helping others,” continued Rabbi Traxler. “Given that they are the same age, these boys could readily relate to the pain of a boy about to celebrate one of the most important days of his life, missing a parent and lacking the means to even get a new pair of shoes.”

Colel Chabad’s Rabbi Traxler stands with his class. (Colel Chabad)

Each year, just before Passover, Colel Chabad sponsors a lavish joint Bar Mitzvah celebration for approximately 120 boys who have come of age (13) in the Jewish tradition. Held in a hall in the center of Jerusalem, the event is attended not only by families who would not necessarily have the means or wherewithal to make a meaningful party but also by politicians and dignitaries seeking to give hope and strength to the orphans.

The Australian children received a Colel Chabadpushka” to collect donations for their “adopted” Bar Mitzvah boy. A pushka is a humble charity box most often kept in homes, businesses, or house of prayer for people to contribute a few coins for charity before praying, on special occasions, and before lighting Shabbat candles. The idea was first introduced more than 200 years ago as a reminder that one can always help others, even with donating just a penny each day.

The youngsters used ingenuity to get their donations. Some set up a table in front of their home while others went door to door asking neighbors for assistance. One boy’s father is the head of a synagogue. He asked congregants to donate as they attended services.

Rabbi Traxler told Breaking Israel News that the students were extremely excited to connect with their Israeli brothers 7,615 miles away. “It was heartwarming to see their enthusiasm for the project and their sincere concern for someone they never met who is struggling,” he said. “Their teacher even made a lesson out of the collections by having the boys sort the various coins and add up the sum.”

Rabbi Traxler, who resides in Israel, is presently in Australia continuing to share the life-saving and life-changing work of Colel Chabad. He showed the students a photo album of the festive Bar Mitzvah celebration that they helped sponsor. Thrilled with what they saw, the boys asked detailed questions about the event such as how does Colel Chabad provide each orphan with a personal Bible tutor and what religious gifts Colel Chabad gives the boys at the celebration.

In Australia, Rabbi Traxler spoke at several more schools, including Carmel School in Perth and the Masada High School in Sydney as well as at parlor meetings and synagogues.

“I believe that everyone in the world should know about the crucial work of Colel Chabad,” he told Breaking Israel News. “I travel to encourage and inspire people to participate in helping others, even with the use of a simple pushka, which Colel Chabad provides for free. People can feel good knowing that they are joining an organization known for its integrity and which has proven itself for hundreds of years helping anyone in need with dignity.”  

To donate to Colel Chabad, please visit here.

Written in cooperation with Colel Chabad.

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