When Sarah Richard and her friend Avery, of Temple Emanu-El in Detroit, Michigan, first started planning how to honor their bat mitzvah, they knew that doing something for the Jewish People in Israel had to be a part of it. For help in choosing the right project, they turned to the Jewish Agency's Ask JAFI one-stop e-mail link. The inquiry was forwarded to Tal Bar-Lev, who at once thought of the Kiryat Ye'arim youth village.
After consultation with Tal, the girls decided on collecting school supplies for the Kiryat Ye'arim children as their project. Every guest at their bat mitzvah reception was kindly requested to bring school supplies for Kiryat Ye'arim, instead of a more traditional bat mitzvah gift. In addition, the girls spent many hours, during the year before they became bat mitzvah, collecting donations of school supplies from various sources.
When the girls arrived in Israel, with a group from Temple Emanu-El, they brought with them no less than three suitcases filled with a cornucopia of fine school supplies. These were presented to the staff of Kiryat Ye'arim at a moving ceremony in the youth village. Unfortunately, the Temple Emanu-El visit overlapped with school vacation, so that it was not possible for the bat mitzvah girls to make their presentation directly to the Kiryat Ye'arim students. However, it was agreed that the supplies would be distributed when school reopens at a special event, photos of which will be sent to the girls. Furthermore, the Temple Emanu-El community will continue to "keep in touch" with Kiryat Ye'arim youth village, through the bar/bat mitzvah projects of younger children from the community as they grow, thus forging a human connection of long-term interest and involvement.