Some 5,720 miles were recently bridged by generosity when one local bar mitzva boy reached out to share with Jerusalem teens in need.
For his bar mitzva project, Seth Marx, whose family has lived in Marlboro for 18 years, collected school supplies and sent them to Boys Town in Jerusalem. The institution focuses on providing opportunities for youths from disadvantaged backgrounds.
Seth, son of Robin and David Marx, even involved his Ranney Middle School classmates in the effort.
“As the school year ended, I knew students would be cleaning out their belongings, so I put bins near the lockers and asked the kids to donate what they no longer needed,” he told NJJN via e-mail. To raise awareness about the drive, Seth posted flyers around the school.
“In just a few days, the boxes were overflowing with great stuff,” he said. Some items had never been used at all, and only those in good condition were accepted.
Seth credits Nissan Graham-Mayk, his Eatontown-based Hebrew tutor, with helping him select a worthy recipient for the donations. “She had helped in creating a list of what students would need,” said Seth. “And she was the one who called my attention to the work of Boys Town in Jerusalem. We read about the school, and I really liked it.”
Seth’s bar mitzva service and celebration were scheduled for Sept. 30. Graham-Mayk, who has a master’s degree in Judaic studies from Israel’s Ministry of Education, was set to preside, with Seth leading services and with participation from family members and friends.
Mayk’s daughter Shyella volunteered to carry the supplies in an extra suitcase when she traveled to Israel in late June. Anything that did not fit into the suitcase was donated to the Boys & Girls Clubs of Monmouth County.
“The school was waiting with open arms,” said Shoshana Levovitz, administrative assistant to Rabbi Ronald L. Gray, executive vice president of Boys Town Jerusalem Foundation of America, Inc., in New York.
According to Levovitz, Boys Town in Jerusalem boards boys from junior high school through college. The three-part curriculum covers academic subjects, technology, and Torah. She said the school’s mission is to “turn otherwise disadvantaged Israeli youth into productive citizens of tomorrow.”
Currently housing more than 900 students on its 18-acre campus, it has over 7,000 graduates since its founding in 1948, many of whom hold “key positions throughout Israeli society,” Levovitz said.
Noting that the school includes both boys and girls, and Jews and non-Jews, dean of students Rabbi Moshe Linchner said, “We are touched and delighted with Seth’s gift of love to our students. He personifies the timeless Jewish ethics of generosity and care for our brothers in need, wherever they may be.”
Seth’s parents also expressed pride in his project. “He loves school and learning, and this enabled him to share something he loves with other children,” said his mother.
The family’s older son, Gregory, now 16, also took on a bar mitzva project that was a “labor of love for him,” Robin Marx recalled. “We had family friends who had started an organization called ‘Stomp the Monster.’ It helps cancer patients, and Gregory managed to raise over $1,000, which he used to donate DVD players and DVDs to the children’s cancer centers at Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital, Monmouth Medical Center, and Saint Barnabas Medical Center.”