One of the many reasons adolescent girls and boys look forward to their bat- and bar-mitzvahs is the presents. Family and friends put a lot of thought into buying the proper, meaningful and memorable gift, and the sight of the many different colorful parcels adds to the anticipation of opening them and discovering their contents.
Hadassa Dubrofsky, a lovely twelve-year old girl from Toronto, Canada however, decided to forgo this form of pleasure, and replace it with something even more meaningful and exciting – an act of chesed (charitable kindness). She asked that her guests, instead of buying her a gift on the occasion of her bat-mitzvah, give a donation to the charity of her choice. The charity she choose was Bat Melech, an organization that helps battered women and their children by giving them a safe shelter, and eventually providing them with a secure permanent home and livelihood. “It is my goal that the funds collected in honor of my bat-mitzvah help build another family unit in the shelter so no mother and child should ever have to be turned away,” Hadassa explains, her words revealing remarkable maturity.
Hadassa reveals that the initial idea for requesting donations for charity in lieu of gifts came from her older brothers, Yehuda and Akiva, both students in Toronto’s Yeshivat Ohr Chaim. Yehuda, who is now sixteen and in 11th grade requested that all donations be made to Emunah Women in Israel, and Akiva, fifteen, in 10th grade, chose Leket Israel as beneficiary of his bar-mitzvah donations.
One cannot help but be deeply impressed by parents who provide such an upbringing for their children. Vivian and Lewis Dubrofsky, both highly trained professionals in managerial positions, seem to be endowed with admirable spiritual dimensions to inculcate these moral Torah values in their children.
To my question as to how she found out about Bat Melech, Hadassa who is in 7th grade at Toronto’s Netivot Hatorah Day School, eagerly replied: “My mother’s very close friend, Yitzchaka Jackson, told us about this charity and how special it is and what important work they do. I had looked for a charity that helped women and children and Bat Melech does both.”
Hadassa’s act of chesed did not end with monetary contributions. She encouraged her friends to join her in creating a personal gift – a hand-painted quilt for Bat Melech. “The basic theme of the quilt was inspirational quotes from the Torah with painted text and images,” Hadassa Dubrofsky enthusiastically depicts the work. “The quilt was made of individual squares that were each painted by a different friend and had its own special message.”
Eventually Hadassa’s extended family – her parents, her aunts, uncles, cousins and grandparents, made a trip to Israel and hand delivered the magnificent masterpiece to Bat Melech. “We gave them this very big quilt which could be hung up on the wall and would decorate the shelter. They loved it!” Hadassa relates with delight.
“I found the visit to the shelter to be very interesting,” she goes on to say. “ I didn’t know what to expect, but when we got there all the women and children in the shelter welcomed us with a smile. The kids were all really cute.”
I believe Hadassa Dubrofsky’s enthusiasm for her act of loving-kindness has a potential impact on others, whether adolescents or adults. She truly serves as a perfect role model.Prof. Livia Bitton-Jackson