The power of one, teen uses bar mitzva to aid Africa
Pat Garcia | March 16, 2008 at 09:39 pmby
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Each one of us can make a difference in someone's life, each one of us should make a difference in at least somebody's life. There's nothing more beautiful than the smile of gratitude of a child in need.
The Torah is full of stories about how one person can make a difference. Moses. Joseph. Noah. Beau.
OK. Maybe not Beau.
Beau Bressler, who is 13 years old with tousled brown hair and a love for Super Smash Bros. video games, is more 21st century than those other guys.
But his story also is about the power of one.
In this case, it's about how one boy turned a religious rite of passage into an enormous act of charity for an African village he's never seen and children he doesn't know.
About a year ago, Beau was in the dining room of his mother's home in La Jolla, with picture windows that frame the azure sea below. He was preparing for his coming of age ceremony in Judaism, called a bar mitzvah (son of the commandment). As part of it, he needed to do a mitzvah project (a good deed).
His mother, best-selling author and life coach Debbie Ford, had a suggestion. Instead of people giving him gifts, how about if he asked them to donate money for a school in Kikoiiro, a rural village in central Uganda?
He was reluctant. “I wasn't sure I wanted to give away all my money,” he admitted.
But the more he thought about it, the more he warmed up to the idea. The typical bar mitzvah gift is money, and Beau couldn't really think of what he'd do with it. Maybe he'd buy a couple more video games, he thought, but that was about all.
“I probably wouldn't do anything useful with it,” he said.
So he agreed. The shiny brown-and-black announcements of his November bar mitzvah were sent out, decorated in an African theme and a drawing of a giraffe. While Ford and Beau's father, San Diego physician Dan Bressler, invited people to the party at the Torrey Pines Hilton, Beau asked guests to donate money for the Children's Academy for the Global Heart via the Just Like My Child Foundation.
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