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New York Boy Donates Bar Mitzvah Money To Help Ethiopian Kids in Northern Israel

Josh Wasserman used the money to establish a basketball team and renovate a new court in Safed

By: Ynet News
Published: August 5th, 2013 in News » Israel
Josh Wasserman, his family, and Safed's new basketball teamPic: Ilan Halperin

The northern Israeli city of Safed, known for its beauty and as an historic center of Jewish mysticism, will soon be welcoming a new basketball team to town care of a bar mitzvah boy from New York.

Josh Wasserman, who loves basketball, decided to donate his bar mitzvah gifts to establish the team and renovate a new court for the children who live in a center for new Ethiopian immigrants in Safed.

Josh decided he wanted to do something to help economically disadvantaged children in Israel after hearing stories about how little some kids there have from his father David Wasserman, who had just returned from a UJA-Federation of New York mission to the country.

Together with UJA Federation's Give a Mitzvah - Do a Mitzvah program, Josh, along with his family, big lovers of basketball, thought it would be a great idea to bring something they love and are passionate about to the Ethiopian children in Safed.

He decided to donate gifts from his bar mitzvah to make a new team a reality. Josh’s siblings also wanted to take part in the project and donated from their own savings as well.

Josh’s bar mitzvah gift will cover the renovation of the court, the hiring of a new coach for a year-long training program and buying special uniforms with the name Team Wasserman printed in both English and Hebrew.

Josh plays on several basketball teams in New York, including an American Athletic Union (AAU) basketball team called the Riverhawks, the Temple Israel Center of White Plains team, and beginning this fall he will play for the Scarsdale High School team.

His older brother, Daniel, 16, also plays basketball for Temple Israel in White Plains (Daniel is currently representing the United States on the Juniors soccer team in the 19th Maccabiah Games in Israel), and younger brother Adam, 10, is also on an AAU basketball team. His sister Hannah, 6, is just starting to play sports.

David, their father, played basketball at Amherst College, and their mother Carolyn, participated on the Maccabiah Track and Field team several times.

'Giving young kids a great example'

“I was looking for a way to do something special and meaningful in connection with my bar mitzvah," said Josh Wasserman. "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."

"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,” says 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.”

This story is reprinted with permission from Ynet News

Related articles: Bar Mitzvah, Mitzvah, Good Samaritan, Safed, Ethiopian Jews, New York
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