Elijah, 13, recently celebrated his Barmitzvah. He made the inspiring decision to donate money received from gifts to World Jewish Relief as part of our Donate to Celebrate scheme. In this article, Elijah explains why he decided to support World Jewish Relief's programmes supporting Syrian refugees.
I celebrated my Barmitzvah earlier this year. My parents have now completed the skill of “building a shul” which is exactly what they did at JW3, North London. I was proud to recite the Torah portion, 'Vayekel Pikudei' surrounded by palm and olive trees.
The following day we had a fantastic party. I remember all my wonderful friends and family, food, the great band and the finale of fireworks. During my speech I pointed out that each of my grandparents were refugees which helped with my decision of where I was going to donate some of my generous gifts to.
Fay, (my Granny) was from Alexandria, Egypt and managed to escape in the 1950s to Switzerland. My ‘Oupah’ (Grandfather), Max, who unfortunately passed away two months after my Barmitzvah left South Africa in 1970s because of apartheid and resettled in the UK.
Eddie (my Grandpa) was born in the UK but his parents were from Russia and managed to leave in the early 1930s after the violent wave of pogroms. Finally, Lea (my Grandma) was from Poland but moved with her parents to Antwerp aged 2 and escaped in March 1940 arriving in London in July 1940.
I decided that I wanted to make a gift to two different charities from some of the money I received for my Barmitzvah.
Firstly, I decided to make a donation to World Jewish Relief because of their history of supporting refugees, some of the most vulnerable people in society. In 1938, they helped raise money for the Kindertransport and assisted in resettling nearly 10,000 children from Germany, Austria and Czechoslovakia to a safer life in the UK. With this history in mind, the charity continues to support refugees including Syrian refugees who have found themselves in Turkey and Greece as well as those that have resettled in the UK by helping them to find jobs and livelihoods.
In addition to their refugee work, World Jewish Relief helps the Jewish community in eastern Europe by supporting some of the world's most vulnerable Jews. World Jewish Relief assists by supporting elderly people who live in extreme poverty as well as helping the younger generation by giving them the skills to find work.
Secondly, I made a donation to Synchronicity Earth, a charity that supports ecological conservation. I am particularly concerned about the impact plastic waste is having on the state of our oceans.
I hope that these donations will go to good use, and that it will help many people.