A family illness spurs bat mitzvah girls tzedakah project

On Feb. 12, our oldest daughter, Rebekah Jenna Kharrazi, had her bat mitzvah at Temple Israel in our new home of Alameda. Here is part of her d'var Torah (speech).

"Judaism tells us that no matter what our occupation, our level of wealth or our capability, we must do mitzvot and give tzedakah.

"There is one more thing I would like to request of everyone today, while I'm on the topic of tzedakah. And that is that it would be to my pleasure if a donation would be made to the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation. That way we can show together that we have understood the lesson of this morning's Torah portion."

You see, Rebekah's brother has cystic fibrosis. When asked what she wanted for this special occasion, she said, nothing for me. I don't have a need for many "things." But if you could make a donation in my brother's honor, that I'd very much appreciate.

For years Rebekah has been an active hard-working fund-raiser for C.F., assisting her mother as chairperson of the San Francisco Great Strides Walk and now organizing a new walk site in Alameda. She has also assisted in the daily care of her brother.

Rebekah has also spent the past several summers working in the local library summer reading program and she has taught children how to swim.

On the day of her bat mitzvah, her cantor and teacher Pamela Rothmann Sawyer said to her, "Because of the love and concern you have for your brother, you have been engaged in a long-term mitzvah project. You gave a presentation to your class, which was so informative and moving that your classmates decided to donate their tzedakah to the CF Foundation. You have also been more than willing to tutor others in class after you completed your own assignments…Your presence enriches our community."