Talia takes on the role of Teen Philanthropist


L to R: Talia at her Bat Mitzvah celebration, Talia with her brother Josh,
and parents, Joey and Ronit at a l'chaim thrown by the Jewish Foundation

By Jody Kamen-- Bat Mitzvah girl Talia Holtzman knows that “a little goes a long way” when it comes to making a difference in the lives of others. In honour of this important milestone, Talia decided it was important to give back to her community in any way she could.

“She was very curious about the idea of being a teen philanthropist and what having a Tzedakah Fund would allow her to do” explained proud mom, Ronit. So, in addition to supporting the Olivia Wise Fund, to which she feels a strong personal connection, Talia made sure to allocate some of her bat mitzvah money to open a Tzedakah Fund of her own, at the Jewish Foundation.

“I wanted to do something special in honour of my bat mitzvah. I know that I will be able to give money at any time from now forward,” said Talia, understanding what it means to be a philanthropist. Talia plans to make distributions from her fund every year, like her older brother, Josh, to causes she feels passionate about.

“I have been privileged to go to camp every summer, and it something I enjoy so much, I wanted to share that love with others,” said Talia. Talia thought back to this past summer at camp when they experienced a week long blackout, and everybody whipped out their flashlights on cue. “It’s the little things that make camp special, and when we didn’t have electricity, we made our own fun with card games and by reading comic books”. Talia crafted baskets for the centerpieces on her bat mitzvah party tables, filled with fuzzy yet fashionable socks, comic books, decks of cards, flashlights and batteries, among other items, help to level the playing field for kids whose parents’ can’t afford to go beyond the basic packing list.

Proud dad, Joey, told Talia about a time when “a little went a long way” when he and some co-staff went in together to purchase some items of clothing and a few “nice to haves” for a camper who arrived at camp with only half a duffel bag. “Talia has always been charitable, and I believe it comes easy for her,” said Joey, “she often is seen going out of her way to make people feel included.”

“I am proud of both my children and their commitment to support programs they are passionate about, now and in the future,” said Ronit — which is truly what B’nai Tzedek is all about.

Up close and personal with Talia

B’nai Tzedek: Where did you learn about tzedakah?
Talia Holtzman: I learned about tzedakah from my parents and at school they always taught us that what small things you do for others can make a huge impact in their lives – you can change someone’s life forever – that is something that always stuck with me.

BT: Why did you choose to support Jewish camping?
TH: Camp is my first home, my home away from home. I wanted to do something for camp because it has given me so much.

BT: Why did you decide to make the baskets as the centerpiece for your bat mitzvah?
TH: I wanted to do something special in honour of my bat mitzvah. I know that I will be able to give money at any time from now forward. The items in the baskets are the little things that make camp great for me, and that gave me an opportunity to have a really personal connection at the time of my celebration.

BT: Do you have any words of wisdom to offer other teens?
TH: “A little bit can make a huge difference” I have been very privileged growing up, even being able to attend summer camp every summer I know is a huge privilege. I knew I wanted to give back because I can. I didn’t feel as if I missed out on any presents or anything like that when making the decision to help others with some of the money from my bat mitzvah.