How to Choose a Mitzvah Project for a Bar/Bat Mitzvah

"One should use one's face, hands, and feet to honor one's Creator" (Tosefta Brachot 4:1).

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What to Do About Invitations

Want a really original invitation to send your family and friends? Be in touch with the Jewish Foundation for the Righteous.

Centerpieces

When it comes to your party, there are so many things you can do for centerpieces.

1.      Books, books, and books! An arrangement of kids' books, audiotapes, videotapes, and CDs can then be given away to a deserving organization in your area.

2.      Food, food, and food! An arrangement of canned and boxed foods in a basket can then be donated to a local pantry or shelter.

3.      Want to go the traditional route with flowers or plants? Arrangements of individual plants and flowers can be broken up and distributed to the local hospital, shelter, or nursing home, or you can ask your rabbi or synagogue office to give you the names of congregants who might enjoy some. You can do this with balloons and bimah [pulpit] arrangements, too.

4.      Speaking of bimah arrangements, don't forget that you can make attractive baskets of toys and stuffed animals and distribute them as well.

5.      Are you a sports fanatic? Try collecting sports equipment and arrange it as centerpieces. After the party? Give it away to local shelters where kids may not have their own equipment.

6.      Use your imagination! There are hundreds of ways to do this--just keep thinking mitzvahs!

Food

Got a caterer preparing your party? Make sure you tell them that you want all of the leftovers packed up so that you can bring them to a nearby pantry or shelter after your party. Don't let them tell you they can't because they don't want to be sued.

Here is a copy of the Bill Emerson Good Samaritan Food Law (a federal law stating that no one can be held liable for any illness resulting from the donation of food). Many people do not know about this law. It will be your proof if the caterer does not want to cooperate.

Selections from the New Federal Food Donation Law

The "Bill Emerson Good Samaritan Food Donation Act" appears in the Child Nutrition Act of 1966 as 42 U.S.C. 12672. The legislation essentially states that the donor of food to a nonprofit organization to people in need is free of liability. This act provides uniform coverage for the entire country.

(c) Liability for damages from donated food and grocery products.

(1)   Liability of person or gleaner. A person or gleaner shall not* be subject to civil or criminal liability arising from the nature, age, packaging, or condition of apparently wholesome food or an apparently fit grocery product that the person or gleaner donates in good faith to a nonprofit organization for ultimate distribution to needy individuals.

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Naomi Eisenberger

Naomi Eisenberger served as the managing director of the Ziv Tzedakah Fund until it closed in 2008. She is now the Executive Director of the Good People Fund.