Mitzvot from the Heart: Josh Thomeczek

Josh Thomeczek

Josh Thomeczek, Congregation Temple Israel

An avid reader, Josh decided he wanted to make sure other children could have access to books, so they might learn to love them as much as he does. He  decided to collect books for Lydia’s House, a transitional housing program for battered and abused women and their children. He chose this organization because his grandmother, Marilyn Schlitter, is a children’s advocate/social worker there. 

All of Josh’s friends and family knew about his project because he included a note in his bar mitzvah invitation about his collection. Many types of books were collected during the four-month period, including classics such as ones by Dr. Seuss, along with “Arthur,” “Captain Underpants” and “Magic Tree House,” and of course, “Harry Potter.” Josh, son of Joanne Levy and Jim Thomeczek of Olivette, received so many books that it took two cars to transport them all to Lydia’s House warehouse.

“I was surprised by how many books were donated; my friends and family were very generous,” said Josh.  “I am so proud that I can give books to people who might not otherwise have them.

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“I was really happy when books were mailed to me by people who couldn’t attend my bar mitzvah — one of my friends who moved from Olivette to New Hampshire mailed me an entire box of books. I got books from Ohio, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, Florida, and of course Missouri.”

As another part of his bar mitzvah preparation, Josh also established a fund through the Jewish Federation called B’nai Tzedek.  He donated some of his bar mitzvah gift  money to set up the fund, which lets him donate money to Jewish causes every year that he selects.  “My first donation is going to Temple Israel because they helped me become a bar mitzvah and it’s my turn to help them,” he said. “Plus, my entire family is very involved there.”