Grant Aims to Make Students Into Lifelong Philanthropists

At his Sept. 3 Bar Mitzvah, Josh Patkin announced his intention to donate $500 to charity.

The Northeast Philadelphia 13-year-old said that he would like to give to the Beit Halochem centers, which help Israel's disabled veterans and terror victims, allowing them to participate in sports activities. He said he chose this particular charity because he enjoys sports himself and "thought it was a good organization to donate to."

Patkin could easily serve as a model for his Abrams Hebrew Academy classmates, who, courtesy of a new grant, have begun taking a firsthand look at the meaning behind tzedakah.

The school recently learned that it was one of 10 recipients — chosen from candidates throughout the country — of an inaugural grant given by the Jewish Teen Funders Network.

The funds are earmarked to support pilot programs meant to encourage philanthropy among Jewish youth.

Each grant supplies $10,000 per year, for three years, to the recipients, in addition to technical and financial support provided by JFTN for the individual programs.

The Abrams Hebrew Academy Student Philanthropy Program hopes to bring the notion of tzedakah — "repairing the world" — closer to its students.

As such, eighth-graders now spend one day a week with head of school Rabbi Ira Budow, talking about charity based on Jewish values and how to make informed decisions on where to donate money in Israel, the focus of study during this academic year.

The students plan to continue their charitable efforts once they leave Abrams and head to high school.

For each subsequent year, they will focus on a different geographic area to donate to — locally, nationally or internationally — before concentrating on Israel again in their senior year.

The overall intent of the program is to create lifelong Jewish philanthropists, explained Gail Baker Check, director of development at the school.

The JFTN grant was locally matched by the Stephen and Eve Milstein Philanthropic Fund, which will help ensure the local sustainability and potential of the program.

As part of the school's annual graduation trip to Israel next spring, Patkin and his classmates hope to visit some of their affiliated charities. Patkin said that he looks forward to possibly visiting a Beit Halochem center, "and actually see where we're donating."



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