B’nai Tzedek Teen Philanthropy: Putting the Mitzvah in Bar and Bat Mitzvah

March 5, 2021

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Around the time of their bar or bat mitzvot, teens explore what it means to become an adult and active member of the Jewish community. They study Torah, learn to lead services, perform mitzvah projects and begin their journey into Jewish philanthropy.

The Tidewater Jewish Foundation is available to facilitate a conversation between the b’nai mitzvah student and their parents about the commitment to tzedakah and family giving. Through TJF, these students and their loved ones have an opportunity to open a B’nai Tzedek Teen Philanthropy fund, which encourages teens to engage in the exploration of, as well as the ability to exercise core Jewish values such as tzedakah (charity) and tikkun olam (repairing the world) through charitable giving. For many, the B’nai Tzedek fund is the beginning of a lifelong commitment to giving, leadership, and engagement in Jewish community.

“We know our children want to make a difference in the world and B’nai Tzedek funds provide a ‘learn by doing’ opportunity to develop the philanthropic mindset,” says Naomi Limor Sedek, TJF president and CEO. “Bar and bat mitzvahs are key formative experiences for our children and these funds are excellent tools to ensure that their development as responsible members of our Jewish community continues well beyond the weekend festivities.”

How it works
B’nai Tzedek funds can be opened with a minimum of $250 to be matched by the Tidewater Jewish Foundation for a starting total of $500. Once the fund is established, teens have an opportunity to distribute 4% of the fund balance to a Jewish charity of their choice each year. In addition, they are encouraged to add to their fund annually with the intention of growing it to a fully funded Donor Advised Fund by the time they reach age 25. To help grow their fund, teens can invite loved ones to make contributions to commemorate any special occasion, starting at their bar or bat mitzvah and continuing through birthdays, holidays, graduations, and other celebrations. The youngest philanthropist will be recognized and honored on the day of the simcha. If the fund is fully funded at age 25, it will convert to a Donor Advised Fund, at which point they may make grants to multiple organizations through their named philanthropic fund.

Planting the seed for a lifelong commitment to giving
By offering the option to grow their fund or distribute the 4% interest every year, teens will have an opportunity to evaluate the current needs of their community while considering the benefits of long-term philanthropic investment. They also gain access to the full range of resources provided by Tidewater Jewish Foundation, including insight into the charitable needs of the local Jewish community and quarterly fund reports that introduce teens to basic market, investment, and fund growth concepts.

Getting started—Mazel Tov!
Contact Kaitlyn Oelsner, Tidewater Jewish Foundation director of philanthropy, at koelsner@ujft.org or 747-965-6103, to schedule a family philanthropy consultation. Visit foundation.jewishva.org to honor a teen’s simcha by helping them grow into engaged, generous members of the Tidewater Jewish community.

- Kaitlyn Oelsner

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