"The camera is an instrument that teaches people how to see without a camera." - Dorothea Lange

Wednesday, March 25, 2009


A Bat and Bar Mitzvah marks an eternal milestone in a young Jewish person’s life—one that happens even without (and perhaps despite…) all the hoopla and fanfare of public celebrations on this special occasion. On this day, every Jewish girl or boy becomes a full-fledged Jewish person. Prior to the Bat/Bar Mitzvah date, the soul of that Jewish young person had not yet reached maturation. Until the Bat/Bar Mitzvah, this child is considered spiritually under qualified and thus not held responsible for her or his actions. With the acquisition of new spiritual credentials comes a new career as a Jewish adult - one of climbing up the ladder of Jewish learning and performing good deeds.

These days, most all of the girls and boys take on Mitzvah projects in conjunction with the ceremony (where they are called to read from the Torah for the first time.) A mitzvah is, of course, a good deed. The kids get to choose for themselves who it is they want to help.

Change the Truth has been the lucky recipient of JJ’s and Sarah’s Mitzvah projects over the past year. Now, we have Sara, who has asked her friends and family to donate money in honor of her Bat Mitzvah to help the children at St. Mary Kevin Orphanage. I asked Sara to introduce herself and explain the process:

“Hi, my name is Sara Lessem and I am in 7th grade at Elm Place Middle School in Highland Park, Illinois. I am very busy with schoolwork, horseback riding and dance. In April of 2009 I will become a Bat Mitzvah and will read from the Torah. For my Bat Mitzvah I wanted to choose a Mitzvah Project that I knew about and was interested in. Then I e-mailed Gloria and told her about me and how I wanted to choose her organization for my project. Of course, Gloria said yes. I was excited and asked her many questions about Change the Truth. After I had read more and more about CTT I decided that it was definitely right for me. I set a goal for my project, which was $1,000 and was determined to reach it. A few months ago, I started to e-mail different people and tell them about CTT to try and get them interested in it. I ended up raising 1,200 dollars and still counting! I was so happy when I had reached my goal. I was proud of myself, my community, and my family. This shows that if you have something set in your mind, it is possible. I think of the children at Saint Mary Kevin Orphanage in Uganda and hope this makes a change in their lives.”

It will definitely make a change in their lives. Sara has raised enough money to send four orphaned children to secondary school for a year. Going to school in Uganda means obtaining the tools necessary for digging out of the rut of poverty. Sara should indeed feel proud: she’s just handed four kids her age a shovel.


Anonymous said...

Sara is my daughter.

Like so many kids, Sara is lucky to have a roof over her head, food at the table, a loving family and an educational path in store for her to help her make her way in life. Unlike so many kids, she "gets it". She appreciates the fact that she is fortunate, she understands that it was not her "right" to have what she does and she values her part in making a difference in the lives of others.

My wife, two sons and I are blessed to have the chance to learn from Sara every day. We could not be more proud of the young lady she has grown up to be. We are excited to watch her develop as an outstanding contributor to the Community, a woman of substance with a radiant smile and a person with a heart of gold and an abundance of compassion for others.

So much, as many would agree, like Gloria.

Anonymous said...

Good for you, parents of Sara - and good for Sara.

- JM

Anonymous said...

We have always known that Sara is special. This successful project exemplifies how much she cares.

Sara helps to make this world a better place.

We are her grandparents!

Anonymous said...

I am a friend of Grandma Barbara and Grandpa Dick. You are to be admired for your accomplishments and maturity! Keep up the good work and you will be an asset to your generation! We need more wonderful teens like you.