Before Matan’s bar mitzvah, we discussed with him that he needed to put aside a certain amount of money for tzedakah (charity). We weren’t sure, however, where he should direct that charity. Matan offered one idea, primarily because it’s the only charity he really knows much about. I hesitated. There is nothing wrong with that charity, certainly, but I would end up writing the check and Matan would never really have anything to do with it all.
So we kept the money in the bank and kept thinking.
Last week, on the Efrat email list, someone posted a message that caught our attention. The woman explained that her daughter was finishing her second year of Sherut Leumi (National Service) at a home for troubled boys. Esther works with one particularly special boy, Or, who is having his bar mitzvah soon. Would anyone, perhaps, like to donate a brand new bike to the bar mitzvah boy?
Josh forwarded me the email and I nearly plotzed. This was it! I emailed the mom back, not realizing at the time that she was one of my neighbors and the mom of one of Matan’s good friends. I told her that I loved the idea, but that I would have to see what Matan thought.
That afternoon, when Matan came home from school, I told him about the boy and the story. “Mommy!” he declared. “It’s perfect. I love sports. So getting someone a bike would be so cool. And he’s a bar mitzvah boy just like me. Let’s do it.”
And so the perfect connection was made and executed. We spoke a number of times to figure out exactly what was needed and how to pull it off. The boy is an orphan and has no extended family. When Esther asked him what he wanted for his bar mitzvah, his answer was “a bike.” She explained that there was absolutely no way he would be getting a bike. There was no money, no family, no fund, nothing. “I know,” he said. “I know I’m not getting it. But I would sure love a bike.”
Friday, we called Chaim Wizman who owns a running and biking specialty store in Bet Shemesh called Al Derech Burma. His store includes running shoes, biking supplies, bike rentals and more. He loved the idea and couldn’t wait for us to arrive at the store. He thought it was incredibly touching and was honored to be part of such a mitzvah. We told Chaim how much we had to spend and he kept saying, “Don’t worry, don’t worry. We’ll make it work.”
Josh, Matan and Eliav drove to the store, where Chaim had already put aside a bike. It was an expensive bike, equipped with a helmet, a bottle holder and a bottle. And he gave it all to us for the amount that Matan had to offer.
Matan brought the bike over to Esther’s house directly from the bike store. Matan was a bit overwhelmed by all of the attention he received, both at the bike store and from Esther’s family, but he was thrilled to be able to do such an amazing mitzvah. He wrote a note to Or and we blew up a picture of Matan and Chaim in front of the store with the bike to send along as well.
May Or have a beautiful bar mitzvah and enjoy his new bike for years to come. And may Matan continue to receive joy from the act of giving, as much as we do from watching him learn such beautiful values. And if you happen to need a bike or quality running shoes in Israel – Chaim is definitely your man.