June 17, 2012 / 27 Sivan 5772
Avital Krifcher became Bat Mitzvah this year. This marks a time in a Jewish girl’s life when she comes of age, taking on the responsibilities of doing mitzvot (good deeds), as prescribed by Jewish Law.
In May 2012, her sister, Galit, along with representatives of The Jewish Agency, made a very special visit on Avital’s behalf.
In preparation for her Bat Mitzvah, Avital learned more about her Judaism and her connection with other Jews worldwide. She became inspired by the notion of ‘Kibbutz Galuyot’, the ‘Ingathering of Exiles’: “I learned about the many waves of Aliyah to Israel, starting with the Exodus from Egypt and continuing into the modern day.”
From Potomac, Maryland, Avital continues, “I was deeply moved to learn about the large Russian immigration to Israel in the 1990s, as well as the Jewish community who remained in the Former Soviet Union and are now living as Jews after being denied their Jewish heritage for so many years.”
Thus inspired, as one of her first mitzvot as a young Jewish woman, Avital embarked on a special Bat Mitzvah Project: She asked guests attending her Bat Mitzvah party to participate in her project by bringing particular items that she feels are emblematic of living a Jewish life – in order to share them with the Jews in the FSU.
On Lag BaOmer 2012, via The Jewish Agency, 70 bags with the items donated by Avital and her family, as well as her guests, were delivered to Jews from the FSU. These young people were in Israel receiving training to be counsellors at camps this summer. This year, The Jewish Agency will 60 camps run in 14 locations across the FSU – which would be impossible without the generosity of donors.
Each bag contained six items: a kippah; dreidels for Hannukah; a Kiddush cup; Shabbat candlesticks and candles – this is a mitzvah that Avital loves doing with her family each week; a haggadah – Pesach is Avital’s favorite holiday and the haggadah is the shared story of the Jews – the first telling in the narrative of “Kibbutz Galuyot”; and an Israeli flag – as a reminder that Israel is the spiritual center of the global Jewish family.
Also in the bag was a letter from the Krifcher family, with a picture of them – parents Jocelyn and Danny, Avital, Galit, Yael, and Alon. They wrote, in Russian and English: “We are sending this gift from our Jewish family to your Jewish family. We hope that the items will enhance your Jewish lives as you celebrate our people’s beautiful traditions and customs.” At Avital’s Bat Mitzvah party, the items made up part of the table decorations. A guest at each table wrote their own letter to the Jewish recipients in the FSU and one such letter was included in each bag.