Mitzvah Mensch, Emma, Crochets Her Way into The Selfhelp Home
Bat Mitzvah Date: September 3, 2022
Meet our latest Mitzvah Mensch, Emma! Emma is a seventh grader who plays basketball after school and just started riding horses. One of Emma’s favorite hobbies is crocheting. A special peaceful hobby, as she describes, that her bubbie (grandmother) taught her two summers ago.
Since then, the two of them have been crocheting together in person and long-distance! From that point on, Emma had only been crocheting things for herself until she realized crocheting was the perfect activity to do with residents of The Selfhelp Home.
Emma had first learned of The Selfhelp Home when her school’s choir (Bernard Zell) performed a concert for Selfhelp. Her family had also put together mishloach manot (Purim baskets) for the residents during Purim. But it was the J2M (Journey to Mitzvah) program through Anshe Emet Synagogue that introduced Emma to a variety of different places where she could volunteer as part of her Mitzvah Project in preparation for her Bat Mitzvah. The Selfhelp Home stuck out to her as a great way to share her crocheting talents:
“I chose The Selfhelp Home for my Mitzvah project because I really enjoy crocheting and I loved the idea of doing it with older people. My bubbie taught me how to crochet, and I wanted to share my love of crocheting with the residents. I also specifically wanted to work at The Selfhelp Home because I wanted to be able to teach the residents and learn something from them.” (Emma)
Emma approached The Selfhelp Home about starting a resident Crocheting Club. She wanted to teach The Selfhelp Home residents a new skill that was accessible for all ages, while also learning from them at the same time – and that’s exactly what happened! Some residents had never crocheted before and learned from Emma, while a few of the residents were very experienced in crocheting and were able to share with Emma their love of crocheting. The best part was that Emma and the residents became friends while they crocheted, sharing stories about their lives and chatting about their different experiences.
Emma’s mom, Meredith, reflects about her daughter’s time at Selfhelp:
“I think it’s nice for kids to learn how to be around older adults, to not be afraid of getting old. It’s nice to be connected to the community and feel part of something outside of yourself. So I love any opportunity for Emma and my kids to experience that.” (Meredith)
We asked Emma what her favorite part about volunteering at Selfhelp was:
“I really liked talking to the residents even more than the crocheting. It was interesting to learn about their lives and I got to make new friends in the process! They told me about where they went to college, talked about their kids and what they were doing for Hanukkah, or what they love to do around Selfhelp.” (Emma)
She also explained what becoming a Bat Mitzvah meant to her:
“As the youngest sibling, I’ve seen my brother and sister have their Bar/Bat Mitzvahs. It was something I’ve been looking forward to for years because I saw how meaningful it was. To be able to do that surrounded by so many people that love me and care about me was really special.” (Emma)
Emma’s Torah portion, called Shoftim (judges), opens with the command to appoint “judges and law-enforcement officials for yourself in all your city gates that the Lord your God is giving you, for your tribes, and they shall judge the people with righteous judgment.” Emma recalled learning about how Moses taught the Israelites to judge situations fairly. “That stuck out to me because I care about a just world and how people’s actions affect others.”
Fun fact: Emma’s mom, Meredith, tutors Bar/Bat Mitzvah students and helped guide Emma through studying her Torah portion. Emma cites Ruth Bader Ginsburg as one of her biggest inspirations. She greatly looked up to Ginsburg as a Jewish woman in a powerful position with a lot of responsibility and respect.
“Emma is relentlessly kind, has a heart that is open to all, and is uncommonly generous with her time and her smile in bringing cheer and companionship to others. We are so proud of this incredible mensch.” (Rabbi D’ror Chankin-Gould)
Emma’s mother, Meredith, added:
“Emma is exceptional. She’s very mature. I’m really proud of her for choosing this project and deciding to continue visiting The Selfhelp Home residents on her own, even after her Bat Mitzvah was over. She has a special way of connecting with people and everyone that she’s met at Selfhelp has really appreciated that. It’s been a really nice experience for everyone.” (Meredith)
Emma has returned to Selfhelp several times since completing her project, including helping our residents put together trick-or-treat bags for Halloween.We couldn’t be more happy to have a kind, young person like Emma visiting our residents! We’re so thankful for Emma and the many ways she has contributed to our home.
Interested in becoming a Mitzvah Mensch at The Selfhelp Home?