A mitzvah project is an opportunity to express your Jewish values and show compassion for others. I have combined my love for family with my passion for sports to create my mitzvah project. For my mitzvah project, I have chosen to support The Jerusalem Institute for the Blind (JIB), in Israel known as Beit Chinuch Ivrim, which was established in Jerusalem 120 years ago.
My great grandparents, Jack and Mary Sanicki, also known as Bubba and Zaida, were Holocaust survivors. Unfortunately, I never got to meet them, but I know from the stories I hear that I would have loved them. Bubba and Zaida left Paris after the war to avoid persecution by the Nazis and immigrated to Melbourne, Australia. They fled Paris with a group of French and Belgium refugees who all had a common interest. These Holocaust survivors formed a friendship with a common goal, which was to maintain their Jewish identity and promote Zionism and support Israel in any way they could. They decided to be the benefactors of the Jerusalem Institute for the Blind and founded a chapter in Melbourne around 1970. My great grandfather, Jack, became the Vice President, and my great grandmother, Mary, oversaw Public Relations. From what I have heard, this was the perfect job for my great grandmother. The purpose of this chapter was to develop a fundraising committee that would send funds to the only Jewish home for the blind in Jerusalem.
The Jerusalem Institute for the Blind is an organization that provides medical care, education, music, vocational training, and rehabilitation to the blind. My great grandparents raised funds by organizing social events throughout the year and board members regularly travelled to Israel to visit JIB. The purpose of my mitzvah project is to honor my great grandparents and their legacy. I plan to continue supporting JIB well past my Bat Mitzvah year. I have spent time researching the institute and met with supporters of the institute. JIB’s impact is measurable and transformative, and is reflected in the confident and happy demeanor of their students. Most children that enter JIB’s program are fearful, insecure, and totally dependent on others for their survival. They emerge confident, hopeful, and independent and ready to pursue meaningful occupations and become contributing members of society.
I quickly realized that although the students attending the institute have major vision problems, they all want to be able to participate in activities that we partake in on a daily basis. I have been playing sports since I was a little girl, and athletics and teamwork have helped shape who I am today. Students at the Jerusalem Institute for the Blind want to be able to participate in sports, just like we do. For example, there are blind students living on campus in Jerusalem, who run races or bicycle in tandem and compete all over the world in various events. I would like to use my time and energy to support this cause and help raise money for students at the Jerusalem Institute for the Blind so that I can support these students and carry on my great grandparent’s legacy.
As some of you may know, prior to Covid, I spent a lot of time training for ninja warrior competitions. I loved pushing myself and challenging myself to accomplish new goals. At first, ninja warrior was something I just watched on TV. I had no idea how exciting and self-fulfilling it would be to participate in the competitions myself. Ninja warrior courses have become a new trend throughout Israel. Given the ongoing war between Israel and Hamas, I would love to be able to give the students at the Jerusalem Institute of the Blind the ability to participate in their own ninja warrior competitions and help prepare for this by funding a ninja warrior course on campus. This would not only give these students another outlet, but also a chance to focus on and overcome new challenges. Imagine how amazing it would be to watch blind students learn to conquer a real ninja warrior course!
As I start to raise money for the Jerusalem Institute for the Blind as my mitzvah project, I plan to continue to support this cause in the future and help transform the lives of those at JIB. Please help me, in support of the JIB, to raise funds to build an incredible ninja warrior course in Israel, and hopefully much more. My initial goal is to raise $10,000 but I really hope to beat that by a lot so that we can keep giving to the JIB and its students. In addition to contributing a portion of my bat mitzvah gifts to this cause, I plan to do future fundraising for the JIB by participating in races and events to help raise awareness and money for this foundation. Thank you for all of your help and support in this special cause!
Fort Lauderdale, Florida