On Oct. 13, in their weekly assembly, students in the elementary grades at Maimonides School in Brookline brainstormed ways to raise money for Israel. 

They considered several options, says elementary school principal Michal Bessler, including a lemonade stand, writing letters to Israeli soldiers, and an indoor parade around the school with flags and music. After lots of discussion, the kids landed on a bake sale to be hosted by the fifth grade class as their first fundraiser.

(Photo: Michal Bessler)

So, on Oct. 16, students used their class time to mix, bake, and frost—all in support of Israel. They also made posters and fliers to advertise their offerings, for sale the next day. By selling brownies and cupcakes decorated with blue-and-white frosting and sprinkles—and tiny Israeli flags—the fifth grade raised $500 to donate to CJP’s Israel Emergency Fund.

“Everyone wanted to participate.” says Bessler. “Kids brought in their allowance, their birthday money, and their tzedakah (charity) money. They wanted to feel involved in helping Israel—it was very inspiring. Even after a lot of baking, we quickly ran out of items to sell.”

Fifth grade teacher Zippy Portman says the bake sale helped her students feel empowered during this time of crisis.

(Photo: Michal Bessler)

“Through this whole experience—from baking, to making posters, to selling their treats, and then counting their earnings—students really made a big difference in an important, small way,” Portman says. “They used adjectives such as ‘special, supportive, and a great classroom experience’ to describe this day.”

Fifth grader Aviv Schwartz says he loved participating in the bake sale.

“I only wish I could share some cupcakes with the Israeli soldiers,” he says.

(Photo: Michal Bessler)

Based on the success of the first bake sale, each elementary grade will have a chance to raise money for Israel, says Bessler. A lemonade stand, an indoor parade with Israeli flags and music, and, of course, more bake sales, are in the works.

In addition—inspired by the ideas that came from the school assembly—students and their families have been raising money for Israel outside of school. Bessler says that two fourth graders recently asked guests of their birthday parties to make donations to Israel instead of bringing gifts. Another fourth grader raised $600 for Magen David Adom by hosting a bake sale in his neighborhood with his siblings—and his father’s employer matched the gift.

(Photo: Michal Bessler)

And families from across the school have collected and packed over 60 bags of supplies for soldiers and have packed 37 bags of toiletries, makeup, and other personal items to send to women in Israel who have been displaced from their homes, as well as offering carpools, flowers, and support to local Maimonides families that have a parent who’s been called to Israel to serve in the military.

“At Maimonides, we teach our students that love and support for Israel and doing chesed (acts of lovingkindness) are core aspects of our religious personas and practice,” Bessler says. “The best way to communicate this message is by doing. That’s why these activities are so important and impactful.”