Bat Mitzvah leads to making a difference

By Alan T. Domb-- In today’s challenging times, it’s heart-warming to hear about a Toronto teen intent on making a tangible difference in the lives of others.

Lainie Yallen enrolled in the Jewish Foundation’s B’nai Tzedek Teen Philanthropy program after being inspired by her older brother’s bar mitzvah initiative to dedicate a playground in Kiryat Shmona, Israel.   

“I was thrilled to be a part of the excitement and attend the dedication with all our family,” says Lainie.  “When it came time for my bat mitzvah, I knew that I wanted to make a difference too.”

And that’s exactly what Lainie has done, choosing to direct her bat mitzvah gifts to the creation of an extreme sports centre in Sderot, Israel.
“The children of Sderot need a safe place to spend their leisure time; a place that will help ease the tensions in their lives, and where they could play and just be kids,” she says.  “They cannot play outside or at outdoor playgrounds because being outside presents too serious a security risk. This will be a place where kids can just be kids and try to forget about their worries of the constant attacks.”

Lainie’s fund at the Jewish Foundation has almost reached her fundraising goal and now that she is a Bat Mitzvah, has already established her first legacy.  

“I am happy that I have begun to do my part toward tikun olam and that my project, which I hope will bring much happiness to the lives of children who live in much worse conditions than I do, is a real act of chesed and tzedakah. I hope that it is the first of many that I will be able to do as I become an adult.”