Josh Wasserman basketball bar mitzva 370.
(photo credit: Courtesy Puder Public Relations LLC)
Young Ethiopian olim living in Safed are gearing up this week for the establishment a new basketball team in their community, made possible by bar mitzvah boy Josh Wasserman of New York.
In the framework of UJA-Federation's "Give a Mitzva-Do a Mitzva" program - which guides bar and bat mitzva children to draw on their own inspirations to come up with ways to help other people - Wasserman decided to forgo traditional gifts as he celebrated his rite of passage, and to donate his bar mitzvah money toward a cause that was meaningful to him. Coming from a family of basketball enthusiasts, Wasserman chose to spread his love for the sport by funding the renovation of the court, the hiring of a new coach for a year-long training program and the purchase of uniforms printed with the words "Team Wasserman" in English and Hebrew.
Wasserman selected Safed's Ethiopian community as the reciever of his gift, after his father David Wasserman, returned from a UJA-Federation of New York mission to Israel and recounted the economic difficulties faced by disadvantaged children in Israel. The young Wasserman's siblings joined forces with their brother and contributed donations from their own savings as well.
“I was looking for a way to do something special and meaningful in connection with my bar mitzvah. Since my family and I are passionate about the sport of basketball, we were thrilled to find a way to allow Israeli kids to experience the sport that we love so much," Josh Wasserman explained. "I'm so fortunate that I'm able to give the kids in Safed the chance to play competitive basketball on a real team with their own coach and new court.”
“Give a Mitzvah–Do a Mitzvah program of the UJA-Federation of New York enables bar and bat mitzvah students to create their own unique mitzvah project that connects their interests and hobbies,” said Brittany Wayne of the UJA-Federation of New York. “Josh’s project is truly amazing. Not only does it provide other young kids a great example of how to become more involved in philanthropy, it also helps to strengthen the relationship between the Jewish community in New York and in Israel.”
A dedication ceremony is set to take place on Wednesday at the Ethiopian Absorption Center in Safed to inaugurate the new basketball court, in attendance of the bar mitzva boy and his family.