Medical oncologist Dr. Daniel Lieber reached a breaking point two years ago. Israel's poor economic state had him so concerned that he began moonlighting as a volunteer for State of Israel Bonds Development Corporation for Israel (DCI), primarily trying to induce doctors to invest their pension money.
But on Dec. 7, 2002, his daughter, Dena, was bat mitzvahed at Sinai Temple in Westwood. His idea to have Dena invest half of her cash gifts into Israel Bonds served as inspiration for what's become known as Israel Bonds' B'nai Mitzvot Program.
"It occurred to me that it was a good opportunity for the bar or bat mitzvah kid to do something worthwhile on that occasion and it was good for Israel to have the kids invest their gifts in Israel bonds," Lieber said.
State of Israel Bonds DCI is an international organization offering securities issued by the government of Israel to support every aspect of the country's economy. In exchange for their investment, the children receive a certificate of appreciation from Israel, as well as the return on their investment when the bonds mature, of course.
Jonathan Toobi, who shared his bar mitzvah day at Sinai Temple with Dena, also pledged half his money. The two became the first of 36 children at the synagogue to participate in the new program.
Lieber estimates that at least $150,000 has been committed to State of Israel Bonds through Sinai Temple since the program began. Now, he said, "Our goals are to get as high participation as possible in the temple and to try to contact other temples."
To that end, State of Israel Bonds has sent out letters to synagogues throughout North America. But their meager advertising budget has driven Lieber and project co-chair Dorice Melamed to donate their own money in addition to their time. In an effort "to start some grass-roots support," Lieber said, they have personally purchased ads promoting the B'nai Mitzvot Program in The Jewish Journal. Their hope is that every child will participate.
"If someone tells us it's a financial hardship, then any investment is fine," Lieber said. "We want to get kids used to the idea of doing a mitzvah on their bar or bat mizvah, and have a significant connection to Israel and help Israel all at once."
To contact the State of Israel Bonds office, call Esti Duenyas, director of the Synagogue Campaign of Israel Bonds, at (310) 996-3007.
Say hello to The Jewish Journal's new celebrations section.
Due to the vast number of b'nai mitzvah, wedding, anniversary and birth announcements we receive, The Journal will now publish all of our readers' celebration announcements immediately on our Web site. We have unveiled our celebrations Web page (part of www.jewishjournal.com). You can upload your announcements and photos onto the site, and send your best wishes and mazel tovs by e-mail directly to the person who is celebrating. We run monthly expanded profiles in The Journal on selected births, b'nai mitzvah, anniversaries and engagements, and a complete and up-to-date list will always be available at jewishjournal.com. We hope you, your synagogue or your family will keep us in touch with all your simchas through the Web (or by snail mail if absolutely necessary), so that we can celebrate with you and the entire community of 200,000 Jewish Journal readers each week. And mazel tov!