Carly Lanfer, Putting the Mitzvah in Bat Mitzvah

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L to R: Carly with her crafted "school Starter Kits"; Kids at the Zipori Warm Home who will benefit from a hot lunch, and extra help from teachers.

By Jody Kamen-- Guests were in for a treat when entering Carly Lanfer’s bat mitzvah celebration, where instead of traditional centerpieces stood “School Starter Kits” packed full with everything from crayons to rulers to pens.

In honour of becoming bat mitzvah, Carly decided to exercise her philanthropic genes and donate a portion of her bat mitzvah gifts to support the Zipori Educational Warm Home Project in Bat Yam, Israel. Through the B’nai Tzedek Teen Philanthropy program which helped make the donation possible, these kits will make their way to Bat Yam and be distributed to students at the Warm Home to ensure they have the proper supplies to succeed in the classroom. “We decided that if we were going to do a mitzvah project, we wanted to make it a good one,” esteemed Carly about the decision to make the gift a part of the celebration and in turn, part of the chatter.

Bat Yam is home to the fastest growing Ethiopian Israeli community in Israel. Ethiopian immigrants and vulnerable Israelis are often challenged with where to leave their children after the school day ends at 1:00 pm. The Zipori Educational Warm Home is a safe and nurturing place for students in grades one and two to spend time after school between the hours of 1-5:00pm while their parents are at work. At the Warm Home, teachers and counselors help with homework, Hebrew, Math and English literacy and the students are offered a hot nutritious lunch.

“When I thought about what was most important to me, I thought of school,” said Carly, who knows that with a strong education is the key to success. Aside from recess, Carly loves English class where she gets to explore her creativity and read.

“Carly was busy juggling school, learning her bat mitzvah portion while attending hockey practice 4-5 times a week,” said proud dad, Todd, “but she still had time to understand what we were trying to teach her about community.” Charity and giving were central to growing up in the Goldstein and Lanfer families.

“The mitzvah part often gets lost in the hype of the celebrations,” added, mom, Tammi who was glad Carly remained humble throughout the process. In order to make the occasion extra meaningful Carly and her parents embarked on some Holocaust research to connect to her roots and to remember those who weren’t able to celebrate with her in this important milestone.

It is clear that Carly’s head and heart are in the right place – and although she might be tough on the ice, her heart is kind.

Mazel Tov Carly on your commitment to tzedakah and tikkun olam.

Up-close & perosonal wih Carly

B’nai Tzedek: What do you like to do?
Carly Lanfer: I go to Leo Baeck Hebrew Day School and I actually really like school. Aside from recess, my favourite subject is English because I really enjoy reading. I also play hockey about 4-5 times a week.

BT: Is that why you decided to support the Zipori Educational Warm Home?
CL: Yes, exactly. When I thought about what was important to me, I thought of school. If you can get a good education – you can really do anything you want.

BT: How did you decide to make these wonderful baskets for the kids in Bat Yam as your Bat Mitzvah centerpieces?
CL: My mom had seen a similar concept done and brought a sample home for me. We decided that if we were going to do a mitzvah project, we wanted to make it a good one.

BT:
What is your inspiration for giving?
CL: I’ve learned that one act of kindness by one person can set off a lot of things. Doing this project and the contribution I am making can help so many kids in Bat Yam, and who knows where they will go and what they’ll become. Giving has always been a big part of my family and how I was brought up. I have a Tzedakah Fund and have the opportunity to make distributions to different charities each year.