Linking to our past, present and future: Twinning Opportunities

B’nai Tzedek


The B’nai Tzedek Youth Philanthropy Program is presented by the Jewish Foundation of Northeast Florida sponsored by the Jewish Federation of Jacksonville and the Gottlieb Family Philanthropic Fund. As a child becomes a Bar/Bat Mitzvah, he or she begins to assume new responsibilities as a member of the Jewish community. One of those additional responsibilities is tzedakah (charity) or caring for the needy in the community. B’nai Tzedek is one opportunity to teach children about tzedakah.


Children living in Northeast Florida are invited to establish a B’nai Tzedek Fund in their own name with a minimum contribution of $125 to the Jewish Foundation of Northeast Florida. Checks should be made payable to “(Child’s Name) B’nai Tzedek Fund.” Your contribution will be matched by contributions of $125 from the Jewish Federation of Jacksonville and $250 from the Gottlieb Family Philanthropic Fund for a total starting balance of $500. We encourage you and your child to add additional monies to the Fund at any time and in any amount and to ask friends and loved ones to contribute to the Fund to commemorate special occasions.


Every year for 20 years, all B’nai Tzedek participants are able to recommend that a contribution be made to any Jewish charitable 501(c)(3) organization of their choice in the Northeast Florida area. The amount of the contribution will be 5% of the fund balance as of the anniversary of the Fund (minimum $25). The Fund will be professionally invested and managed with the Jewish Foundation’s other funds. There will be a 1% annual administrative fee.

After 20 years, the Fund will be converted to a permanent Endowment Fund of the Jewish Community Foundation of Northeast Florida in the name of the original B’nai Tzedek donor. It must meet the minimum balance required by the Jewish Foundation of Northeast Florida and will be regulated by the then current bylaws of the Jewish Foundation. All questions and comments should be directed to the Executive Director at (904) 394-0720 or by emailing


The Children of the Holocaust


The Children of the Holocaust Program was established to link Bar/Bat Mitzvah children with one of the 1.5 million Jewish children who were murdered by the Nazis before being able to fulfill the mitzvah of learning Torah. You can dedicate your Bar/Bat Mitzvah ceremony to the memory of this child, thereby symbolizing the importance of remembering the past while educating for the future. You will receive a certificate commemorating your participation in the program. To participate, contact the Jewish Community Foundation of Northeast Florida at (904) 394-0720 or by emailing



Joan Levin Gift of Israel


The Joan Levin Gift of Israel helps families give their children the gift of a trip to Israel, surely one of the most important and formative of Jewish experiences. Administered by the Jacksonville Jewish Federation, parents of B’nei Mitzvah open a special savings account and deposit $175 per annum for a minimum of four years toward the cost of an Israel trip. Federation then provides an annual dollar match up to a maximum of $700 by the end of four years. The total of $1,400 may be used anytime before an individual’s 24th birthday toward the cost of any trip to Israel sponsored by Federation or myriad other Jewish organizations, including the Conservative Movement’s own USY Pilgrimage, Ramah Israel, Nativ, or USY High in Israel.


Families may also choose to deposit additional money to the account. Those who do not utilize their funds for Israel travel may withdraw the money at any time without penalty, but do forfeit the matching Federation grant in its entirety. For more information about the Joan Levin Gift of Israel, contact the Jacksonville Jewish Federation directly at (904) 448-5000.


Other Twinning Opportunities


Bar/Bat Mitzvah Program For Children With Special Needs In Israel.

The bar/bat mitzvah program for children with special needs in Israel is the joint project of the Masorti Foundation for Conservative Judaism in Israel and the Cantors Assembly. This program enables American b’nai mitzvah to twin with Israeli children with special needs. The bar/bat mitzvah for the Special Child program annually prepares over 300 Israeli children with special needs for their bar or bat mitzvah ceremony. Since 1995, the Masorti Movement has been running Israel’s only national bar/bat mitzvah program, which reaches out systematically to children with special needs in Israeli schools. Originally starting in one school, today the program operates in forty schools, hospitals and institutions throughout Israel.

The program works with youth with special needs who would not otherwise benefit from Jewish enrichment classes, and provides an opportunity for them to be called up to the Torah. Participants include children with a variety of special needs, including those with Cerebral Palsy, Down syndrome, mild and moderate mental retardation, hearing impairments, ADD, ADHD and other behavioral challenges, autism, and blindness. No one is turned away on the basis of the severity of his or her disability. About one third of the participants are new immigrants.


For information, contact the Masorti Foundation at 212-870-2216


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