My first involvement with a Mitzvah Project was twelve years ago, when my little cousin David was preparing for his Bar Mitzvah. I didn’t totally know what a Mitzvah Project was, but I knew that he had to have one! He was into making duct tape wallets at the time, and was also an avid skateboarder. We decided he would raise money for a new Boston skateboard park by selling custom duct tape wallets. I was proud to contribute and to see his project through, but I am still waiting for my wallet!
There is a good lesson here in making sure you have a good plan going into Mitzvah Project season, and that you really conquer the Five Ws ahead of time. The Mitzvah Project is something big that your child is responsible for on the Bnei Mitzvah checklist, and thinking the project through ahead of time will help things run more smoothly for the whole family.
Figure out who will need to be involved besides your child. How much of your help will they need, or will they need the assistance or clergy or their tutor? Will they be reaching out to friends and family for some kind of involvement?
What: What will the structure of the project be? Does your child want to do a drive to collect items? Do they want to lead a fundraiser for money? Do they want to spend time volunteering at one organization? Do they want to start their own organization or one time event? Make sure to reach out to your clergy to see where help is needed in your community.
When: The Project should start six months to a year ahead of the big day, depending on the project and how much time they will want/need to spend. Once the reception venue is booked, it’s time to start thinking about the project!
Where: What kind of causes have been important to your child or your family throughout their life? Is there an organization related to an interest of theirs?
Why: Make sure your child understands why they are doing the project, and why they chose the one they did. They should be able to discuss it during their d’var Torah.
And also How: How much money and time will it cost your child and your family? Think about how you will let people know about the project. Social media can be very powerful, but make sure your child has involvement in the publicity process as well. Set a goal that they can work towards, and an easy way to track the results. Make sure to thank anyone who contributes to the project, and to share the results. Your personal Bar/Bat Mitzvah event website is a great place to keep people posted.
It all fits together…
If you can answer all of these questions you are well on your way to seeing your project culminate successfully. Make sure to get your Five Ws/One H answered on paper, or somewhere digitally, that is easily accessible by both you and your child.
Start reaching out to organizations that you are thinking about helping, and ask them what would be the most meaningful project.
Mazel Tov on this Mitzvah!
If you’d like to look at mitzvah project options in the Bay Area, go here.
Want help planning with a detailed checklist? go here