Being a Mitzvah Representative

sbbHow can a few classes of kids in Atlanta brighten an entire hospital?

The Davis Academy’s 4th grade team, interested in making a wellness-related impact in Atlanta and in Israel, raised a lot of money to donate to ALYN Hospital in Jerusalem. They helped those in Atlanta and in Israel.  Here’s the field report from my shaliach mitzvah (mitzvah representative) adventure in Jerusalem…

First step was collecting the money, which the 4th graders did persistently all year.

Second step was figuring out the logistics. I collected a card from the 4th graders to share when I got to Israel, got the total of money to spend, a list of what to spend it on, and was connected to our friends at ALYN Hospital by the 4th grade team.

Third step was actual, on the ground logistics. I converted the dollar amount to shekels, asked for store recommendations from Israeli friends, and made my way to a store near the famous Machane Yehuda shuk with a few of my camp colleagues.  After eating some rugelach and assorted free samples, things started to get interesting: it took around 1 hour, 2 shopkeepers, 2 Nadiv Educators, 1 URJ Camp Assistant Director, a number of baskets and 2 calculators to buy all of the supplies on the list.  (Thanks to my colleagues at URJ Camp Kalsman for their help!)

I left the store with bags and bags of every possible craft supply you could want – acrylic paint, pipe cleaners, paint brushes, watercolors, crayons, markers, crepe paper, cellophane, feathers, ribbons, beads, stickers…stickers…more stickers! My shoulders ache(d) with the weight of the tzedek/righteousness of 70 Atlanta children.

The next day, I was ready for the fourth and final step.  I asked another camp friend (everywhere you turn in Israel, you find a camp friend!) who is studying to be a rabbi to help me carry all of the craft supplies to ALYN, to share the weight and the love. I was welcomed with a banner that had my name on it, and we were given a comprehensive tour of the facility. ALYN hospital is so many things – a rehabilitation center, a hospital, a school, a place for families, a place where secular and religious Jews and Arabs all work together to help kids recover from accidents and illness. Smiles abound in this brightly-decorated and highly vibrant building. Those who can are encouraged to cycle around the hospital – not quite able to walk, they strive to be more independent and mobile.

The thanks were many and often as we walked around the hospital. Many people – in the craft store, in ALYN, in the taxis necessary for the shlep – were so grateful (in both Hebrew and English!).  I’m just the shlicha mitzvah, a person delivering a mitzvah for others, I said. These weren’t my supplies, wasn’t my money that I was spending, wasn’t my idea. I was just representing the 4th grade teachers, students and families, and I was so proud to work with them at my school. Regardless, I was treated like a hero, as were my friends and colleagues who helped me along the way. “I’m so proud to work with them,” I said.

Who are the heroes?

The 4th grade team for raising the money and figuring out where to donate – and for making a card to send with the supplies before I left on my trip!

The people who are committed to social justice and tzedek/righteousness, the people who masterminded an international mitzvah, and those who daily think about how to make things better for others.

The doctors, nurses, therapists, teachers, social workers, development professionals, security guards, families and patients at ALYN Hospital.

Thanks, 4th grade team, for letting me be a part of this holy work.

Posted on April 23, 2014

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