With gratitude from Jerusalem
Rabbi and Author – Los Angeles, California
I am in Jerusalem [to celebrate the Bat Mitzvah of my daughter Shira] gazing out at the walls of the Old City and the words floating through my mind are ones spoken in these streets more two millennia ago. They are words I have heard and repeated many times as a rabbi, a teacher, a Jew, but they take on a whole new meaning for me today: Im ein ani li, mi li? Uchi-she-ani l’atzmi, mah ani? V’im lo achashav, ey-ma-tie?” They are pronouncements attributed to the great sage, Rabbi Hillel. The man knew what he was talking about. For 2000 years later the Bat Mitzvah of my youngest child, my final b’nei mitzvah as a father, has imbued those words with parental pride and unbridled gratitude. To our families, of course, but also the Jewish community of Los Angeles.
ALEH is an organization in Israel that cares for kids 24/7, 365 days a year, children whose families cannot meet their needs. Shira was twinned with a young girl, Efrat, whose rare chromosomal disorder rendered her unable to speak or function as most children. Efrat, 12 nevertheless enjoys music and dance, attends classes, and loves the feel of water on her skin. We decided we would travel to Israel to hold a second ceremony with Efrat at ALEH. Through Shira’s website,www.thebookofshira.com. she has raised awareness of ALEH and the work they do for hundreds of children in Israel, including Arab children, who have special and ever-pressing needs. She has been raising funds and, at her children’s party in LA following her ceremony, chose to have her friends use part of their celebratory time to paint tiny ceramic butterflies. Shira would bring these colorful offerings to Israel to help fashion an art work for the children of ALEH. Through the graciousness of Fred Anderson of Color Me Mine in Beverly Hills, she was able to take these painted butterflies fashioned by the hands of Jewish children in LA, fire them in the kiln, and transform a little piece of Israel.
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