An Interview with Maxwell Charlat

Maxwell Charlat

Maxwell Charlat

In honour of his Bar Mitzvah, 13-year-old Maxwell Charlat chose to support the Etgarim program through the B’nai Tzedek Teen Philanthropy program at the Jewish Foundation of Greater Toronto, the endowment arm of UJA Federation. Etgarim is a program in Sderot, Israel, which gives the region’s youth the opportunity to participate in extreme sports. The program promotes a fun and constructive way for Sderot’s youth to keep their minds off the rocket attacks, reduce tension and stress through physical activities, socialize with their peers, and develop their physical fitness. The activities take place both within schools as well as in after school enrichment programs. For children who rarely get the chance to play outside for fear of rocket attacks, this program truly changes their lives.

How do you feel about your project in Israel?

“I feel like I definitely made the right choice. Israel has always been a huge part of my life, and I know the people there need a lot of help. It’s interesting because a lot of places in the world need work, but Israel is very diverse – one day can be fine, but the next day could be a war. You really never know what’s going to happen, and we always need to be prepared. I feel an even stronger connection to Israel now, after contributing to this project.”

Why did you choose B’nai Tzedek Teen Philanthropy?

“I know UJA has a good reputation and is very organized, so that made my decision a lot easier. When I started working with the B’nai Tzedek team, I really felt like they were trying to help me as much as they possibly could, and they matched my interests really well. This kind of experience shouldn’t be hard – it should be really easy! B’nai Tzedek helped do most of the legwork for me so I could give to something I’m really passionate about easily and efficiently.”

What is your inspiration for giving?

“Other kids are getting so many things for their Bar/Bat Mitzvahs, and there are billions of kids who need the money and support way more than us. It’s so sad. But giving away the gifts feels so good in the long term. I could get this new phone, or I could impact these less fortunate people for the rest of my life. It’s just so much more meaningful.”

What would you say to others your age about getting involved?

“I would just want them to know how good it feels. It makes me feel wonderful about doing a good thing for the community, and it makes other people feel good about their lives.”

The program’s participants felt so honoured to know that a boy their own age in Toronto cares about them enough to fund this program. Maxwell’s project is not only changing the lives of people who live in difficult conditions, it also brings the international Jewish community closer together and makes people feel more connected to eachother.

This summer, the Charlats were able to see Maxwell’s project in action during a family trip to Israel. Meeting the kids in Sderot and participating in the Etgarim program firsthand was an incredible experience for Maxwell that helped him realize the impact he has made on the lives of others.


Maxwell Charlat taking part in the Etgarim program he supports through his B’nai Tzedek Tzedakah Fund

Maxwell Charlat taking part in the Etgarim program he supports
through his B’nai Tzedek Tzedakah Fund