May 21, 2007
American youths donate money to benefit children of northern Israel
By Idan Avni
Eleven playgrounds are being built in Kiryat Shmona thanks to contributions from the Jewish community abroad. However, the money did not come from wealthy adults, but from children who have reached bar and batmitzvah age and are donating the money they received as gifts.
One of the benefactors is Rachel Hibner (12) of New York. She was both proud and moved to be at the unveiling ceremony of the playground her gift money helped build in northern town.
Rachel who donated all of the $11,000 she received for her Bat mitzvah said: “I attached a card to my batmitzvah invitation asking for money instead of a gift. I explained that the money will be donated to Israel."
Rachel is not alone. Ten playgrounds were built in the last month in Kiryat Shmona thanks to donations by Jewish American youth.
The connection was made by the Jewish Agency after having received several appeals by young Americans. The Jewish Agency proposes different projects and the kids decide which one to contribute to. One youngster who enjoys cooking donated $25,000 to build four kitchens in homes of new immigrants from Ethiopia.
The Jewish Agency's Jeff Kay said that “there are young people in the United States, who already have everything, and (they) want to donate to a unique cause, and for the most part we choose projects that girls and boys can connect to."
Jewish teenagers and children from the New York area contributed about a million dollars to support 100 different projects.
The town's mayor, Danny Kadosh, says that when the playground is completed, the young benefactors are invited to the unveiling ceremony. He said that the kids donate most of the $20 000 it costs to build a playground and are always happy and excited to see the results on the ground.