The Davis Family

L-R: Lee, Laurie, Noah, Michael and Hannah Davis

L-R: Lee, Laurie, Noah, Michael and Hannah Davis

By Monique Gottlieb -- 13-year-old Noah Davis knows that with adulthood comes great responsibility. In honour of becoming Bar Mitzvah, he decided that instead of receiving gifts for himself, he wanted to give to others less fortunate. “It feels better to give than to receive,” explains Noah. “I don’t really need anything, and I know a lot of people don’t have what I have. They need it more than me.”

The choice was easy for Noah. His older siblings, Hannah and Lee, had both opened Tzedakah Funds through the B’nai Tzedek Teen Philanthropy program at the Jewish Foundation of Greater Toronto in honour of becoming B’nai Mitzvahs. Each year as they grew older, Noah saw his brother and sister evaluate their funds and think about where to distribute the available interest. Noah wanted to make an impact that would last as long as possible, so he followed in his siblings’ footsteps and opened his own Tzedakah Fund.

Tzedakah has always been an important value in the Davis family. Noah’s parents are extremely proud of him for taking on the responsibility of tzedakah as a part of becoming Bar Mitzvah. “It made the whole experience much more meaningful, and really puts what we are celebrating into perspective,” explains Noah’s father, Michael. The B’nai Tzedek Teen Philanthropy program emphasizes on the mitzvah of becoming Bar and Bat Mitzvah and keeps it alive through the establishment of an endowment fund. “It’s really a beautiful thing,” says mom, Laurie. “Now he will be honouring becoming Bar Mitzvah every year he distributes from his fund.” Both parents agree that the program really helps shape the adults their children are becoming by opening their eyes to the needs in the community, and helping them make a difference. “It’s an amazing opportunity for our kids to think about philanthropy. They really need to plan it and think it through. It’s a wonderful legacy.” Michael and Laurie also hope that as their children grow up, they can use the interest from their funds to work together on philanthropic projects that are important to all three of them.

Noah’s siblings are glad to see their youngest brother place so much importance on tzedakah. “It’s an amazing feeling to be able to give what a lot of working adults can’t, and then you do it all over again every year,” explains Hannah, who opened her fund 5 years ago and has been very involved in the B’nai Tzedek Teen Philanthropy program. “It really is a gift that keeps on giving.”

“I like that I can choose what I want to give to,” says Lee, who just experienced his first year of distributions. “It makes me realize how much I’m really capable of doing, and how I’m able to impact the lives of others.”

Noah is very excited about what he is going to do with his money, and he is already thinking about which organizations he wants to support. “It’s empowering to contribute such a significant gift to charities,” he explains, “I can’t wait to make my first distributions.”