“I could not be more proud of Asher. Asher’s heart is so big. He cares deeply about his family, his pets, his friends, and his community. Asher’s attempt to bring joy and laughter to the residents of Selfhelp, through his project, is exactly in keeping with his character. It can only be expressed in Yiddish: pure zis!”
Asher has always loved animals. At home, he has two Sheepadoodle dogs, Pearl and Opal, and Milo the cat. He enjoys playing with them and dressing them up in costumes. At his school, Asher is a member of the Sustainability Club where they get to care for chickens and harvest their eggs. Unfortunately the program was put on hold during COVID, but he’s looking forward to it restarting again. His other hobbies include video games, training his dogs to do tricks, riding his bike, and playing the piano and french horn.
When it came time to choose a mitzvah project, Asher’s close relationships with his grandparents inspired to give back to the elderly. During the pandemic, Asher has regularly stayed in touch with his grandparents through video chat and wanted to bring joy to others via video. Asher spoke with Arielle, Selfhelp’s Director of Community Outreach, and together they came up with the perfect idea: Create a Purim video of his pets dressed up in costumes and send it to Selfhelp’s residents to enjoy.
“I call my grandma and grandpa all the time. I thought about how seniors might be feeling lonely and wanted to help.”
Asher heard of The Selfhelp Home through Rabbi D’ror Chankin-Gould. After sharing his interests, Rabbi D’ror felt that The Selfhelp Home would be a great fit for Asher’s project. Fun Fact: Asher has two older brothers, Elijah and Sam. When Sam was younger, he actually visited Selfhelp with his choir! Creating the mitzvah project video was a family collaboration. While Asher wrote the script, his brother Elijah edited the video footage and his mom, Debbie, helped film. This video was extra meaningful to Asher because before his grandpa recently passed, his grandpa helped him with the script on the phone. It was a special way to connect with his grandpa before he passed on.
“My favorite part of this experience was putting the costumes on the dogs!”
His bar mitzvah took place on March 20, 2021. Asher’s mom, Debbie, remarked: “It was great! We had some family present in person, but it was also a virtual livestream. The synagogue made a Zoom for the family.” Asher’s aunt and grandma visited to celebrate in person, but they also had a Zoom party where they showed Asher’s montage, played games, showed the mitzvah project video, and kindly promoted donations to The Selfhelp Home in Asher’s honor.
What does it mean to you to become a bar mitzvah? Asher shared his thoughts:
“I can participate in the services for adults and read torah.”
In the future, Asher wants to bring the dogs to Selfhelp as therapy dogs when things are safer. Meanwhile, he plans on creating a series of more videos with his pets! Stay tuned…