If you’re looking to give a meaningful Bar or Bat Mitzvah gift or even to give a special supplement a regular Bar or Bat Mitzvah gift this is a fantastic opportunity.  Equally, Bar or Bat Mitzvah kids may be looking to donate part of their “earnings” to a good cause, or to raise funds for a worthy charity as part of their Bar/Bat Mitzvah project. Read on to find out how to turn your gift into something of real value.

By Laura Pater

Meaningful Bar/Bat Mitzvah donations

Meaningful Bar/Bat Mitzvah donations

So where’s yours? Hidden out of sight high on a kitchen shelf? Or tucked away in the back of the guest room closet? Almost every Jewish household has a surplus gift collection, a combination of the good, the bad and the unwanted. A new website aims to put an end to the traditional box of chocolates, obligatory bottle of wine or yet another set of silver salad servers, offering a feel-good charitable alternative.

Meaningful Gifts, MGifts.org, was born one Saturday night when founder Arron Saitowitz surveyed the array of generous gifts his Shabbat guests had brought his family. “I looked at all the lovely things we had been given and just thought, what a shame. We, thank G-d, don’t need them and our friends needn’t have spent time and money choosing these things when instead, the money could have gone to people who could really use it.”

With that thought South African-born Saitowitz, 32, who works in Tel Aviv’s Diamond Exchange and lives in Ra’anana with his family, set up the website, which was launched in April, featuring two charities very close to his heart: the Beit Issie Shapiro Center for children with special needs, in Raanana; and Leket Israel, a food rescue and distribution organization. In the coming months, more charities are set to be added from all over the world with gift donations available of between five and 100 dollars.

Joseph Gitler, founder and chairman of Leket Israel, said: “As an organization whose main purpose is to rescue food that would otherwise have gone to waste, a website where people can give a hospitality gift through charity in lieu of material presents is very meaningful to us.”

Saitowitz explains: “We want to take donating to a new level. This way even people who can’t afford to spend a lot of money can still make valuable contributions that go directly to the charity.”

The website is clear and easy to use from any country. Users are sent an email acknowledging their donation and recipients are sent an email informing them that a donation has been made in their honor. All the funds go directly to the charities which will handle the tax relief.

Saitowitz, a father of three young children, also hopes the site will go some way to changing the culture of charitable donations. “Instead of taking my kids to a toy store every time they’re invited to a birthday party, they can choose a charity to donate money to and hopefully begin learning about giving in a more meaningful way.”

Jean Judes, executive director at Beit Issie Shapiro, said: “I am so honored and pleased that Beit Issie Shapiro has been recognized as one of the first charities on this new and innovative site. I encourage everyone to take advantage of this fantastic vehicle for giving on all occasions to important charities like ours.” Saitowitz added: “At a time when many people are struggling financially, they can now use their money to give people something of more lasting value.”

To start giving Meaningful Gifts for any and every occasion, please visit: www.mgifts.org.