Teen makes waves for good cause

When Jonah Goldberg, a seventh-grader at Bethlehem Central Middle School, learned about the bar/bat mitzvah program run by the Jewish Foundation for the Righteous, he decided to take his bar mitzvah to the next level by raising money for the organization.

I heard about JFR from my mother. She and I researched a bunch of organizations that I could raise money for as my mitzvah project and I picked JFR, said Goldberg.

The Jewish Foundation for the Righteous was created in 1986 to provide financial assistance to non-Jews who risked their lives and often the lives of their families to rescue Jews during the Holocaust. The JFR supports more than 1,100 aged and needy rescuers in 23 countries. The foundation also runs an international education program that preserves the legacy of the rescuers and teaches the history of the Holocaust.

"There are millions of people in the world who desperately need help. However, the people aided by the JFR not only need help, but their heroic actions to help others make you think that your responsibility, as a person, to help them is even stronger," said Goldberg.

Goldberg said he was brainstorming ideas about how to raise money for the group when it came to him.

"I like to swim, and I am on the Delmar Dolfins swim team. I thought that I could raise a lot of money through swimming," said Goldberg.

"About 18 kids swam with me " three of them were friends, one was my brother, and the others were swimmers from the Albany Arrows swim team of the Albany JCC, who volunteered to participate on my project," said Goldberg.

The Jewish Foundation for the Righteous has a special program for young people that enables a bar/bat mitzvah to combine the mitzvah, or good deed, of tzedakah, or charitable giving, with education. The program provides ways to teach young people about the importance of tzedakah, tikkun olam (repairing the world), and hakarat hatov (recognizing, or appreciating the good). The program matches a bar/bat mitzvah with a Christian rescuer and enables the bar/bat mitzvah to learn about this individual who saved Jews during the Holocaust. It also offers the opportunity to recognize and appreciate the heroic deeds of rescuers.

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