A Mitzvah for Zaide

by Natalie Jacobs February 27, 2017


syd_0122Sydney Lasensky was the first person in her Hebrew class at Temple Solel to complete her mitzvah project. The idea came to her quickly because she had seen her sister complete the process a few years prior. The two girls “are both into fitness” so a run/walk made a good fit. Sydney’s, though, would be a fundraiser for melanoma research in honor of her grandfather who died from the disease in 2011.

“I was about 6 or 7” when he passed, Sydney recalls. “But there are some things I remember. … We always went to get yogurt whenever we were with him.” When he noticed his granddaughter’s cups weren’t full to the brim, “he would always say ‘add a little more, fill it to the top.’”

He liked to indulge, Sydney explains.

With the help of her parents and a dedicated planning schedule, Sydney created a website to process the funds she would raise, through a company called Everyday Hero, and sent out emails to friends and family notifying them of the project. They decided on a goal of raising $2,592 through a very Jewish math problem – her grandfather’s age at the time of his passing, 72, times a double chai, 36.

Approximately 50 people showed up for the run/walk fundraiser which started and ended at their home in Carlsbad. Sydney raised at least $3,388 for melanoma research (she was still tabulating checks at the time of our call), not a magic number but a significant donation all the same.

Sydney says she wanted to become Bat Mitzvah because “it’s important, and it’s part of life.

“My mom didn’t have hers,” she continues, “but she’s Jewish. My dad had his, and my sister had hers. It’s not because they did it that I feel obligated to do it, but I feel it’s important. It’s part of the Jewish culture. You learn and keep the tradition going.”

She says she doesn’t have anymore mitzvah projects planned, but she is continuing to look at volunteer opportunities provided through her synagogue. Sydney became Bat Mitzvah on Feb. 18, and celebrated with nearly 200 family and friends afterward. 


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