Mitzvah Wars at Gerrard Berman Day School Conclude Peacefully, Contribute to Tikkun Olam
By Morris Eidelsberg, Yad Sarah Volunteer
Harvey Jaffe is a man on a mission.
Feeling that children hugely benefit from acts of good deeds, Harvey seeks to introduce children to the world of Chesed - helping out of fellow human beings. So during the last school year, he volunteered at Gerrard Berman Day School, Solomon Schechter of North Jersey, working with the 7th and 8th grade to teach the principles of Tzedakah and G’milut Chasidim. Each student was expected to fulfill a certain number of Chesed hours, and when Harvey started, they were far from accomplishing their goals.
The project began with each student researching a different organization and presenting it to his or her grade. Merits of each organization were discussed, followed by a vote to see for which cause they would collect Tzedakah. Wouldn't you know it; both the 7th and 8th grades independently voted for Yad Sarah. And then the Mitzvah Wars began – aptly named by the students- to see which grade would raise the most money. A bagel party was to be the prize for the winning team.
Expectations for the Mitzvah Wars were not particularly high. "Everyone thought the program would be a huge success if we were able to motivate students and raise a few hundred dollars," noted Harvey. "I set a lofty goal of raising $1,500," aware that with a small student body, it would virtually be impossible to achieve it. But then the games began.
The 7th grade led a Tee Shirt Sale, with clothing donated by a parent in the printing business. They also ran created a Video-thon, with middle and lower school students competing against peers during recess at a donation fee of $6 for 6 minutes of gaming. Elaborating on the video theme, they arrange for a screening of Yad Sarah's film, to educate the student body about the beneficiary of their charity skirmishes.
The 8th grade solicited prizes for a raffle, shamelessly approaching all who entered the school, begging them to purchase multiple raffles. They supplemented their Tzedakah income by holding a bake sale from baked goods donated by local proprietors.
Teachers were amazed by the enthusiasm of the children and how motivated they became when given an opportunity to help create a better world. Watching these children transform from disinterested kids to Chesed warriors was an experience Harvey will always cherish. "These kids incredibly managed to exceed my high hopes, raising a grand total of $1655.31," said Harvey, beaming with pride. The Tzedakah monies were used to purchase 7 children's wheelchairs, to be loaned free of charge across Israel.
As to the winning grade- well, it was pretty close, but this time the 8th grade won out. But wait till next year.
[photo: 8th grade students Yuval Millet and Joshua Golubovsky sell a Mitzvah War raffle ticket]