April 15, 2007
American bar and bat mitzvah gift money has gone toward building playgrounds in an underprivileged Israeli community. Over the past month, 11 playgrounds have been built in Kiryat Shemona using money donated by American Jews who recently underwent bar and bat mitzvahs and funneled their cash presents to a fund run by the Jewish Agency for Israel, Yediot Achronot reported Sunday.
"There are young people in the United States who already have everything," the Jewish Agency's Jeff Kay told the daily. "These young people want to donate to a unique cause, and for the most part we choose projects that girls and boys can connect to."
Kiryat Shemona, a town on the northern border, suffered heavy shelling during last year's war with Lebanon's Hezbollah terrorist group. The town's mayor, Danny Kadosh, said the young American donors often fly in to unveil the playground they helped build.
"The kids see their contribution on the ground, and it makes them happy and excited," Kadosh said.