A cancelled tutoring session over the summer led to a bat mitzva’s commitment to childhood cancer patients.
Becki Rosenthal, who will become a bat mitzva Saturday, Dec. 11, at Congregation B’nai Tikvah in North Brunswick, is collecting toys, games, and puzzles for pediatric cancer patients at the Bristol Myers Squibb Children’s Hospital at Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital in New Brunswick.
She will distribute the holiday gifts alongside Sherrie and Mike Wells of Kendall Park, the founders of Hugs for Brady, a foundation that honors the memory of their 23-month-old son, Brady Michael Wells, who died of leukemia in July.
Becki learned about the Wells’ heartbreak over the summer, when her tutor said she had to cancel their session in order to attend a funeral.
“When I saw her a few days later, she seemed a little sad so I asked her why,” Becki said. “She told me the funeral was for her friends’ son.”
Becki asked her tutor if she had a photo of the little boy.
“He was just so adorable,” said Becki. She and the tutor began to talk about pediatric cancer patients. Becki was so moved, she got in touch with the boy’s parents.
“I have been speaking to Mr. and Mrs. Wells and the grandparents too,” said Becki. “Because of Brady, I learned there are many kids sick in the hospital with pediatric cancer, and they don’t get to see their brothers, sisters, or friends. Like all kids, these children love playing with games, puzzles, and toys with their parents to help brighten their days.”
Becki is the daughter of Beth and Mike Slansky and Gary and Stacy Rosenthal of North Brunswick, all of whom belong to B’nai Tikvah. She attends Crossroad South Middle School in South Brunswick.
Even her bat mitzva Torah portion, Vayigash, relates to her project, said Becki.
In Egypt, she said, “Joseph wrapped up all the food and donated it to the Jewish people in places that needed it. I will do the same thing, except with toys, games, and puzzles.”
Boxes have been set out at the synagogue and at businesses throughout the area through Dec. 15. Becki and her mother, Beth Slansky, are taking some of the approximately 120 items that have been collected as of Nov. 30 and making them into “bima baskets” in lieu of flowers at the bat mitzva.
“I think it’s great that she has this interest and passion and looks outside of herself to others,” said Slansky. “I’m really proud of her. She’s developed a nice relationship with the Wells family. She keeps it close to her heart that there are people less fortunate than her. As she moves into adulthood she is realizing that it is important to give back.”