Boy Uses Bar Mitzvah Money to Bring Maker Bus to Israeli Children

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A boy reads his bar mitzvah [Image: Peter van der Sluijs, via Wikimedia Commons]

A bar mitzvah is a coming-of-age ceremony held for Jewish boys when they turn 13 (girls hold a bat mitzvah at either 12 or 13) which celebrates their passage into manhood and their assumption of responsibilities and obligations for their own actions and participation in Jewish religious and cultural life. In other words, it’s a big deal, rite of passage event and as such requires a great deal of preparation – and anxiety – on the part of the boy and his family. As such, it is not only marked by a religious ceremony but also, often, by a great big party.

These parties are akin to birthday parties plus weddings, and are often attended by extended family, friends, and members of the celebrant’s congregation. As with birthday parties, presents are given, often monetary gifts, especially in multiples of 18, a particularly auspicious number since it is the numerical equivalent of the Hebrew word for life or ‘chai’.

One Jewish boy who recently celebrated his bar mitzvah decided to do something extraordinary with the money he received and donated it all to build Israel’s first-ever Maker Bus to serve needy children in Israel. Noah Helfstein received $76,000 at his celebration and rather than spend it on himself, he decided to use it to create more opportunities for other children to gain hands-on experience with advanced making technologies.

6930459099846640360noThe logistics of such a project are more than a 13-year-old can do on his own, so he worked with the UJA-Federation of New York through their good works program ‘Give a Mitzvah-Do a Mitzvah‘ to bring his vision to fruition. UJA-Federation works with youth who want to use the occasion of their bar or bat mitzvah to give to causes that are important to them. They help the young person to shape their vision and to create a website designed to encourage donations to their cause.

Noah’s parents, Stacy and Jason Helfstein, are understandably proud of their son’s commitment to bringing this technology to children of Israel, whether Jews or Arabs, especially those living in more rural and less affluent communities that would otherwise not have access. Noah spoke for himself in an interview with Ynet News:

“I am very fond of innovative technologies and am connected to them. I chose to donate the money from my bar mitzvah to this project because I wanted to give as many children in Israel the opportunity to experience it.”

Noah has been interested in 3D printing, and has in fact built his own 3D printer. The Maker Bus – a project run by XLN, a subsidiary of the Reut Group, and Ofanim – will contain an advanced 3D printer to teach new makers how the technology works, and to create new objects.

“We are so proud Noah chose to be involved in this bar-mitzvah project and share the same opportunity he was fortunate to have – learning about 3D printing and cutting edge, innovative technology – with the children of Israel,” his parents said.

69304580990100640360noThe Maker Bus will make its debut on the eve of Passover and moving forward (sorry, pun intended) will offer regular courses on a weekly basis as well as special workshops designed specifically to engage children ages 8-15. The introduction of this bus will help the children of Israel be prepared for what is clearly the future of manufacturing and the possibilities for making already becoming commonplace around the world.

Congratulations to Noah for his bar mitzvah and on a heart-warming project realized…and mazel tov to his parents for having raised a caring and generous young man. Discuss in the Maker Bus forum over at 3DPB.com.

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