SHARING YOUR BAR/BAT MITZVAH WITH JEWS AROUND THE WORLD:
Kulanu Connects You
What is Kulanu?
Kulanu (Hebrew for “all of us”) is a non-profit organization that has helped isolated Jewish communities around the globe since 1994.
Kulanu works in Uganda, Ghana, India, Latin America and other places to help dispersed remnants of the Jewish people that have long been disconnected from the worldwide Jewish community. Our connections help all of us enrich our Jewish lives.
Abayudaya Children in Uganda ©joyofcolor.com
What Are Specific Examples of Kulanu Projects?
- In Uganda, working with the Abayudaya community of Jews, Kulanu supports a primary school and a high school that educate impoverished Jewish, Christian and Muslim children together in peace.
- In India, Kulanu sent a rabbi and his wife to teach and study with the Telugu Jews of Andhra Pradesh.
- In Ghana, Kulanu helped the Jewish community of Sefwi Wiawso develop a business making beautiful African fabric challah covers and kente-cloth tallitot.
- In the U.S, Kulanu has assisted Anousim seeking to return to Judaism. Anousim are descendants of Spanish and Portuguese Jews who were forcibly converted to Catholicism during the Spanish Inquisition 500 years ago.
- Kulanu also operates a boutique (www.kulanuboutique.com) that sells handicrafts from these and other communities to help them raise their standards of living with a sustainable business.
Anousi Child in Ecuador ©Ed Samiljan
How Can I Teach about Kulanu?
- Joel in Maryland discussed Kulanu's work in Nigeria in his d'var torah, and he arranged for an article in the Washington Jewish Week about Nigerian Jews, Kulanu, and his bar mitzvah project.
- Paige in California set up an exhibit about Kulanu at her bat mitzvah.
- Josh in Louisiana wore a kente cloth tallit from Ghana at his bar mitzvah.
How Can I Raise Money?
One easy and powerful way to raise money is to write a personal letter about Kulanu and include it with your bar/bat mitzvah invitation. You’ll be amazed at the results! When you include the request in your invitations, even people who can't come to your event can still help with your mitzvah project.
What Is the First Step To Take?
It is important that we know of your project before you start work. We must review and approve your fundraising letter before you send it out and get to know you and your project. Then we can answer questions if donors call Kulanu directly, and we’ll recognize the donations from your donors.
Women’s Rosh Hodesh Group, Ghana ©Allison Michael
What Should My Letter Say?
Kulanu has collected some sample letters at www.kulanu.org/mitzvahprojects that can help if you want to send a letter to friends and family. Please ask people to either donate online at www.kulanu.org or mail a check, payable to Kulanu to:
c/o Harriet Bograd, President,
165 West End Ave., Apt. 3R
New York, NY 10023
They should put your name in the memo field of their check or in the comments field online.
Who Will Send Thank You Letters?
When Kulanu receives a contribution in your honor, we will promptly send the donor a thank you letter, which also confirms that their donation is tax-deductible. Kulanu will also let you know who has made donations in your honor so you can send your own personal thank you to each donor. All of your donors also will be added to our database so that they receive Kulanu’s quarterly 16-page newsletter for a year.
How Else Have Kids Raised Funds?
- Sandon in Connecticut made and sold jewelry and donated the proceeds.
- Juliana in Virginia sold Mirembe Kawomera Coffee (deliciouspeace.com) for more than the price she paid, and donated the profits to Kulanu.
- Zak from New York had his bar mitzvah in Uganda. His family donated two classrooms to the Abayudaya school, he worked with the schoolchildren to decorate the rooms, and his friends and family generously supported teachers’ salaries
Chanukah in India ©Bonita Sussman
How Can I Help?
- You can raise money to support Kulanu’s work.
- You can educate your classmates, congregation, friends and family about Kulanu and the communities it works with.
- You can support the communities Kulanu helps by buying kippot, challah covers, CDs and books from Kulanu’s online boutique (www.kulanuboutique.com).
Why Is My Participation So Important?
Operating with only a limited, part-time staff, Kulanu relies on volunteers like you to help us get the word out about Kulanu. We depend on contributions to support our work. Every small amount helps:
- $50 is enough to help a woman in the Abayudaya community in Uganda to start her own business.
- $100 provides basic schooling for a year to a student at the Abayudaya elementary school.
- $650 pays for a Jewish teacher from Mumbai, India to travel to Andhra Pradesh, India to teach in the Bnei Ephraim community.
Passover Matzah in Uganda ©joyofcolor.com
Should I Collect Things to Send Overseas?
No, not unless you or one of your friends will be traveling overseas to personally deliver what you've collected. Most of the time, the shipping costs are very expensive and often there are problems in making use of the shipped goods.
How Can You Learn More About Kulanu, the Communities it Works With, and the Work that It Does?
Can I Say How Money Will be Spent?
You can ask for donations to support all of the work that Kulanu does or for one of the Kulanu funds listed on our Get Involved page. Because Kulanu is volunteer-driven, we must limit the number of funds we manage. Any restriction on the money that you raise must be approved in advance by Harriet Bograd, Kulanu’s President.
How Does Kulanu Use the Money It Receives?
The funds you raise will be used to assist the communities that we work with in Uganda, Suriname, Nigeria, India, Zimbabwe, and elsewhere, and to support our web site, newsletters, speaking tours, youth and congregational outreach, and boutique. Our programs include education, research, publications, development, and networking among the communities. No more than 10% of restricted gifts are used for overhead.
Any More Questions?
Email: mitzvahprojects @ kulanu.org
c/o Harriet Bograd
165 West End Avenue, Apt. 3R
New York, New York 10023