A Concert for a Cause: B’nai Mitzvah Projects Join the Fight to End Hunger

Paul Sherman
September 20, 2021

Whether through fundraising, educational presentations, or hands-on advocacy projects, MAZON’s staff work directly with B’nai Mitzvah students to raise funds and awareness about hunger through projects that align with their values and highlight their respective Torah portions. This past Spring, Lilah Epley, a member of Congregation Shaarey Zedek in East Lansing, MI, exceeded expectations by hosting a benefit concert, Sing Out Loud! Lilah, an accomplished singer and performer, spent over 50 hours writing, rehearsing, and planning a concert, which included a setlist of uplifting songs, before performing for a live audience of 25 and a virtual audience of over 350. Incredibly, Lilah’s concert raised over $6,000 for MAZON.

Recently, we spoke with Lilah to learn more about what inspired her to work with MAZON for her Bat Mitzvah project:

For this significant milestone in your life, why did you feel it was important to focus on raising awareness for an issue like hunger?

“Since COVID, I’ve noticed that way more families have been struggling with getting food on the table, and I wanted to try to help make a difference for even just a few families. I thought it may help to lessen some of the stress that those families were feeling.”

What, or who, inspired you to choose MAZON for your Mitzvah Project?

“Rabbi Bigman inspired me to choose MAZON. I know it is an organization that our synagogue supports throughout the year, and I have supported MAZON in the past through synagogue fundraisers, so it felt natural to choose MAZON for my Mitzvah Project.”

Were you particularly drawn to the issue of hunger, general Jewish social justice values, or a combination?

“I am generally drawn to the issue of hunger. For my 9th birthday I asked for donations to the Greater Lansing Food Bank instead of gifts. Food is something that we celebrate in my house and in the Jewish culture. Many of our religious observances revolve around eating together. I know that I am lucky to not ever have to worry about whether there is enough food to eat, and I am fortunate to have choices about what I eat. I feel sad that many other children don’t have the same food security that I do.”

Is there anything else that you think people should know about your experience?

“I am extremely grateful for all of the people who came together to help me raise all of the money that I did. I was not expecting to raise so much money.  It was a great lesson for me that one person really can make a difference.”

We are so grateful to Lilah and the entire Shaarey Zedek community for providing a glimmer of hope and inspiration during a challenging year. This is just one example of the ways that even our youngest and brightest stars can join the fight to end hunger and make a meaningful impact. If you or someone you know is interested in working with MAZON for an upcoming Mitzvah Project, we would love to hear from you – learn more or reach out to Paul Sherman, MAZON’s Outreach Manager today!