Ayala connects her passion to community needs

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Ayala got the full riding experience at the Red Mountain Therapeutic Riding Center

By Jody Kamen-- For her bat mitzvah, Ayala Grossman knew she wanted to give back, so she did some research and spoke to her family about the different charitable organizations and opportunities to give in the Jewish community.

The B’nai Tzedek Teen Philanthropy program at the Jewish Foundation of Greater Toronto is committed to connecting young philanthropists to the causes they feel passionate about.

So for Ayala, who loves animals and is an avid horseback rider, the opportunity to support the Red Mountain Therapeutic Riding Center (RMTRC) in Eilat/Eilot, Israel, was a perfect match. After learning that one of the horses at the center had fallen ill and needed immediate veterinary services, Ayala opened a Tzedakah Fund at the Foundation and supported the recovery of the horse.

The RMTRC is the sole therapeutic riding center in the south of Israel that provides services to children and adults with various special needs. Therapeutic riding improves balance, coordination, concentration, mobilization of stiff joints, fosters self-esteem and independence and is a good form of exercise.  Participants in the therapies and programs at the center are shuttled from surrounding cites.

After a Kabbalat Shabbat service and bat mitzvah celebration in Toronto, Ayala embarked on a family trip to Israel. The trip to Israel was filled with touring, a large Passover Seder and tree planting activity with close to 40 relatives.

The Jewish Foundation helped the Grossmans arrange a visit to RMTRC to meet the horse and experience the day to day operations of the center. “The organizer greeted us with warmth – I could tell it was an amazing place,” explained Ayala. After learning about the different therapies and having the opportunity to get on a horse and do some of the exercises, Ayala decided she wanted to devote another day of her trip to volunteering at the center.

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She went back 2 days later to volunteer, where she had the privilege of meeting some kids, learning about their special needs and hearing about the amazing progress they have made through therapy.

Ayala recalled a special moment she had with a young boy who seemed angry and sad.  “He hardly knew how to talk, he could only say shalom (hello/goodbye) and todah rabah (thank you). And even though he knew how to say those words, he rarely did so because it was difficult for him. I understand though; because when I imagine not being able to communicate with people it makes me really sad and angry too.” At the end of the day Ayala got a warm hug and todah rabah from the boy. “It was an amazing feeling knowing that I had helped these kids, not only to have fun but also to learn and get better.”

In addition to a sensitivity to people with special needs, Ayala gained a deeper connection to Israel and horses through this giving experience. Every year, she will have the opportunity to contribute to the charities of her choice through her Tzedakah Fund.
Mazel Tov Ayala!