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November 18, 1988 - Image 18

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1988-11-18

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

F RONT L I N ES I

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Siegel Challenges
Teens To Do Mitzvot

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18

FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 18, 1988

Eat less
saturate d
fats.

WE'RE FIGHTING FOR
YOUR LIFE

American Heart ta
Association m.. w
..J

he "Pied Piper of
Tzedakah" paid De-
troit a visit, bringing
with him his own particular
brand of mitzvah-making.
Danny Siegel — author,
teacher, fund-raiser and mitz-
vah worker — addressed a
group of area teenagers at the
Maple/Drake Jewish Com-
munity Center last Thursday
night. The title of his talk:
"Modern Day Mitzvah
Heroes." The program was
.sponsored by the United
Hebrew Schools in coopera-
tion with the Jewish Center,
United Synagogue Youth, the
B'nai B'rith Youth Organiza-
tion and Michigan State Tem-
ple Youth.
About 70 teens and a hand-
ful of adults listened intent-
ly as Siegel, who criss-crosses
the country lecturing about
tzedakah, spun his web of
stories sprinkled with
messages about mitzvot. He
painted portraits of famous
people who are mitzvah
heroes — singer Paul Simon,
whose charity work has
benefitted the South African
anti-apartheid movement,
and William Marriott, whose
hotel chain's hiring policies
mandate a workforce that is
5 percent developmentally
disabled.
And there was the not so
famous, like a teenager nam-
ed Trevor Ferrell of
Philadelphia, who brings
hope and food to the homeless
on his city's streets. "How did
he do it?" asked Siegel. "He
DID it! He cut out the bull."
The point is, Siegel told the
teenagers, is that one can be
a mitzvah hero and make a
difference. It doesn't have to
be "high fallutin' tzedakah",
since seemingly small
gestures can have a far-
reaching effect, Siegel said.
"There's a tremendous im-
pact in doing real things,"
said Siegel.
Siegel challenged the teens
to think and to act, making
them aware of issues and how
they can help the homeless,
the handicapped, the abused
and the needy right in the
Jewish community. He also
communicates with the
teenagers using language
and stories to which they can
relate.
He asked, "How many of
you, when you see somebody
(parked) in a handicapped
(parking) space, want to take
out a switch blade and slash
some tires?" While the kids

sniggered, Siegel used the
humor to hit on the message
of awareness. He told them
his mother has a handicapped
parking permit for his sister
and his mother doesn't
hesitate to leave notes. That
driver is a "daled-vahv-raish-
koof. What does that spell?"
asked Siegel.
"Dork?" queried one teen,
followed by more laughter.
They message wasn't lost on
them.
Siegel also brought with
him a TDD machine, used to
communicate with the deaf.
He said he had visited Los
Angeles recently, where he
was told they have no deaf

"It was an amazing
experience
watching how
Danny Siegel was
affected by this
group and how this
group was affected
by Danny Siegel."

Jews. It made him angry, he
said, that people refused to
accept that there could be
such a problem in their own
community — deaf Jews who
are isolated because they
have no way to communicate.
Siegel brought this TDD for a
reason. It was earmarked to
stay in Detroit. "We need a
committee . to decide
which agency is going to get
this TDD . as a gift from
the youth of. Detroit?'
He asked members of the
crowd to "fork over a
dollar"in partial payment of
the TDD. Then, as the money-
was being passed forward,
Siegel told of a girl in
Baltimore who babysat and
did other odd jobs, so she
could raise money to get a
TDD for her synagogue. By
the time the money was col-
lected, more than $117
dollars to go toward the $167
piece of equipment was rais-
ed and a young man had
volunteered to find the TDD
a home. Siegel also handed
out "freebies" — copies of
pamphlets like "116 Practical
Mitzvah Suggestions" and
"13 Things Kids Don't Know
About Tzedkah," while urg-
ing the teens to pick specific
recommendations and act on
them.
Working like an auctioneer,
Siegel peppered the crowd
with suggestions. "Who will
volunteer . . . to get five over-
coats in the next week to a
Jewish agency?" A hand went

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