When 12-year-old Daniel Spivak of Monmouth Junction saw the photos of the devastation in Haiti, he knew he wanted to help.
Months earlier, Cantor Bruce Rockman of Congregation B’nai Tikvah in North Brunswick and his Sons of Tikvah Band had begun planning a Sunday, March 28, benefit concert at the synagogue.
So when Daniel and his family met with Rockman to discuss a tzedaka project for his April 17 bar mitzva, the stars aligned and the Lo Alecha Benefit Concert for Haiti was born.
The title comes from Pirkei Avot (Ethics of the Fathers): “It is not for you to complete the work, but neither are you free to desist from it.”
“The media had forgotten Haiti,” said Daniel, a seventh-grader at Crossroads South Middle School in South Brunswick. “They moved on to the Oscars and Chile, when Haiti’s government is in anarchy and people are living in the street or in mud huts.” When he looked for images of Haiti on the Internet, he said, it was “sad and heartbreaking.”
Daniel is the son of Suzanne and David Spivak.
During the day on March 28, people can drop off items such as nonperishable food, toiletries, tents, hand tools, tarps, sleeping bags, school supplies, and clothing. The items will be donated to the Hope for Haiti Foundation, which will have a local representative take them directly to stricken areas of the nation.
The concert will also collect items to benefit Sayeret 401, an elite reconnaissance unit of the Israeli Defense Forces that operates behind enemy lines, said Rabbi Robert Wolkoff.
“We want to provide these guys with incidental things to make their lives easier, such as thermal underwear,” he said. “We are praying for them and will try to set up a Facebook connection to send them messages of support.”
Daniel, said Rockman, came up with the idea for the concert beneficiaries. The cantor suggested the Lo Alecha title because “it is our responsibility to not forget people who are victims of disasters around the world.”
What better time to hold such an event, he said, than Passover, “when we hold the bread of affliction and read in the Haggada the story of our enslavement and invite all who are hungry to come eat with us,” he said. “This is the perfect time to open our hearts and home to help others, to be concerned about the poor, desperate people of Haiti.”
Rockman said the concert is in line with what he had in mind when he formed Sons of Tikvah nine years ago.
“We wanted to bring happy Jewish music to our community and bring it with meaning and purpose,” he said. “In part we want to educate people about Judaism through music but also bring about social consciousnesses. We like to think of ourselves as the pied pipers of Jewish social consciousness.”