A 13-year old boy from London has won the Jack Petchy Achievement Award for using his own bar mitzvah to raise thousands of pounds for the simchas of less fortunate Israeli youngsters his own age.
Joshku Gunusen was nominated for the award by Edgware & District Reform Synagogue after cycling 50 miles to raise £2,500 for a group of 15 boys and seven girls whose own bar and bat mitzvahs were also taking place.
The children live in Karmiel Children’s Village in northern Israel, which provides foster homes for youngsters whose own home life becomes unsafe for reasons such as alcohol and drug abuse.
The Petchy Foundation honoured Joshku as part of its mission to recognise young people who have achieved something special.
“It added a meaningful new dimension to my son’s journey in becoming a man,” said his mum Alison. “It made him appreciate how fortunate he is and helped increase his awareness of other children’s circumstances, realising that he could make a significant difference to them.”
The family were in Israel to share in the children’s celebrations, and this week recalled the “unbelievable impact,” after seeing how the money helped “clothe all 22 children, fund their boat trip and provide them with a Cross pen engraved with their names and a personalised journal”.
Speaking after the event, Joshku said: “It was a unique and once in a lifetime experience that I will never forget. I’m so glad I did it and was able to make the Karmiel childrens’ bar/bat mitzvahs so special.”
The family now wants to encourage other Jewish parents and bar mitzvah children to twin their bar/bat mitzvah with children less fortunate than themselves.