Ma’asim Tovim is the community service component of Temple Beth Elohim’s b’nai mitzvah program. Beginning in fall of sixth grade and continuing through seventh grade, students continue their mid-week classes, but, in lieu of Sunday classes, they spend four to eight hours per month volunteering at one of approximately eight sites: the synagogue’s caring community efforts, a food pantry and homeless shelter, a Head Start program, a senior citizen center, the Special Olympics, a poverty center, and a transitional housing program. To make the connection between Judaism and their volunteer work, each site visit begins with a 20-30 minute text study; to maximize the personal impact of the work, students keep journals.
Beth Elohim addressed sixth and seventh grades separately because these students are at unique places developmentally. One of the reasons Ma’asim Tovim works well is because caring for others and making a difference in the world is an adult thing to do, which is an issue of interest to this age group.
Grade levels: 6, 7
Learners: Children (pre-B’nai Mitzvah)
Everyone in the target audience is required to participate in the program.
Year Implemented: 2008
Temple Beth Elohim
B’nai Mitzvah each year: 80