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Bar Mitzvah Boy Asks for Donations to JNF's Sderot Indoor Recreation Center

When seventh grader Brandon Israel visited Israel a few years ago with his family, he and his younger sister Lily saw a different side of Israel, one that most tourists – and kids their age – don’t normally see. In honor of Brandon's Bar Mitzvah on January 28, he’s asking friends and family to donate to Jewish National Fund’s (JNF) Sderot Indoor Recreation Center and help give children of all ages a sense of safety and freedom that he has enjoyed throughout his childhood.

photo 2.JPGBuilt by JNF in 2009, the Sderot Indoor Recreation Center is the largest secure indoor playground in Israel, situated in a town that borders on Gaza and is often attacked by Qassam rockets. At the sound of the siren, the town’s citizens have 15 seconds to get to safety. The goal of the playground is to provide Sderot’s youth with a place to have fun, connect with friends, enjoy stimulating classes, and be children, beyond the conflict. Parents can have peace of mind knowing that their children are playing and learning in an environment that is safe and secure.

Brandon thought the playground was “really cool.”

“I want the kids in Sderot to have as much fun as possible,” he said. “I hope the money I donate can buy more equipment so they can have lots of fun while being inside.”

He says that after seeing the center, he tries not to take things for granted. Living in Florida, he likes to spend a lot of time playing outside, something the children of Sderot can’t do without the fear of a siren warning them of an incoming rocket.

“These kids are less fortunate than I am, so I want to donate and help these kids live the way I live and have the most fun they can,” Brandon said. “I want them to get their minds off of the sirens and rockets.”

Brandon’s mother, Caryn Israel, says the playground really hit home for both of her children. “The concept of freedom is one most children take for granted; ours play outside all the time,” she said. “The idea that it is of tremendous danger to just go out was really eye-opening to them. Brandon and Lily really enjoyed playing with the children of Sderot.”

Caryn is very proud of her son’s decision to raise money for Sderot for his bar mitzvah. “He’s got a soulful heart,” she said. “He’s the kind of kid who, when he sees those in need, whether they fell on the ice rink or feel badly about themselves in whatever way, always tries to make them feel better.”

Picture Caption: Brandon Israel (left) playing with a boy from Sderot at the Indoor Recreation Center.


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