In anticipation of her upcoming Bat Mitzvah this coming December, Yehudis Muller of Hillside, NJ, is baking up delicious treats for Shabbat and Yom Tov to help shield ALEH’s immunocompromised residents with severe disabilities from COVID-19 and provide opportunities for their continued growth and development.
But this is not your average bake sale! This long-term fundraiser, which began mid-May, is scheduled to run for as many weeks as Yehudis’s parents, Devorah and Reuven, can handle it. Week after week, Yehudis connects with family, friends and neighbors via a special WhatsApp group to offer them that week’s featured baked goods as special treats for their Shabbat or Yom Tov tables – usually parve rugelach or brownie bars sold by the pound for a minimum donation of $10 to ALEH, Israel’s network of care for individuals with severe complex disabilities. After baking the weekly order with her mom, Yehudis delivers the baked goods on Erev Shabbat and Erev Yom Tov.
“ALEH’s Bar/Bat Mitzvah campaigns allow young women and men to take their special day to the next level, to transform it into a platform for performing the ultimate act of kindness – providing kids who can’t walk, talk or even breathe on their own a chance to live better, happier and more fulfilling lives,” said Elie Klein, ALEH’s Director of Development for the US and Canada. “When Yehudis said that she wanted to run a campaign to support ALEH, I could never have expected this! The amount of care and attention to detail that Yehudis and her wonderful parents have been pouring into this Mitzvah Project is incredible, and their family and friends across New Jersey and around the world are taking notice. For her Bat Mitzvah, Yeudis is making a real difference for ALEH’s kids when they need her most – that’s what becoming a Bat Mitzvah is all about.”
The Mullers have footed the bill for all of the ingredients, packaging and delivery costs to ensure that 100% of the money donated to Yehudis’s Bat Mitzvah campaign goes directly to ALEH. For Shavuot, Yehudis and Devorah added strawberry shortcake and cheese danishes to the menu to attract more customers…and it worked like a charm. They have also been taking special orders, including a birthday cake and a cake for a siddur party, and all they ask is a larger donation to support ALEH’s amazing kids. After focusing on Hillside exclusively for the first few weeks, a boost from ALEH’s Facebook page allowed Yehudis to connect with customers in Teaneck and Bergenfield as well. Devorah hopes that they can make weekly deliveries in Teaneck, Bergenfield, West Orange and Livingston, and has made it clear that she is “willing to deliver wherever orders are placed.”
Yehudis’s campaign has also become a conduit for additional acts of chesed in and around New Jersey. One donor who has dietary issues and cannot partake of Yehudis’s baked goods herself made a large donation to the campaign and requested that Yehudis make deliveries to local families who have been hit hard by the pandemic. Another donor based in Israel made a sizeable donation and asked for delivery to a shiva house so that the family in mourning could feel her embrace from across the ocean.
With a goal of at least $4,000, Yehudis hopes to fund several items that are urgently needed at ALEH’s residential and rehabilitative center in Jerusalem, including: tens of sets of personal protective equipment (PPE) for ALEH’s professional staff to help maintain the center’s sterile environment, a very sensitive electronic thermometer that will keep the ALEH children safe from the Coronavirus by detecting a fever before it becomes serious, a Kangaroo feeder for a young woman Yehudis’s age who is fed exclusively from a feeding tube, specialized toys for two of the facility’s therapeutic play corners, and specialized seating systems for three children with severe disabilities.