Mitzvot from the Heart: Andrew Hanin, Zakai Rose & Louis Taxman

Mitzvah project

Congregation B’nai Amoona

Good friends and students at the Saul Mirowitz Jewish Community School, Andrew, Louis, and Zakai, heard there were many families in need of assistance who were not eligible or were uncomfortable going to a public venue to secure food and had turned instead to their own shul for help. The boys felt compelled to assist them and others in the Jewish community by raising money to purchase grocery gift cards in time for Passover. The friends combined Mitzvah Meals project would raise more than $2,000.

During the Purim carnival at B’nai Amoona, Andrew, Louis and Zakai ran a donation booth. They asked congregants to fulfill the mitzvah of helping those in need — “matanot l’evyonim.” Anyone who made a donation received a piece of candy. At another event, during Sunday School, students who donated $10 or more were given a piece of Betsy’s (the mashgiach) famous pizza.

“I liked working with my friends,” said Louis. “I had a sense of accomplishment knowing that I might have helped a family I knew.”  

Zakai felt inspired and proud for having made a significant difference in the lives of many needy Jewish families. 

Quoting from the Talmud, “Kol Yisrael Arevim Zeh BaZeh,” all Jews are responsible for one another, Andrew said, “It was important to me to know that I could make a difference in the life of someone who really needed our help. Tikkun olam, repairing the world, is our responsibility”. 

Andrew, son of Missy and Yoram Hanin of Creve Coeur, also participated in other mitzvah projects, including “Remember Us, the Holocaust Mitzvah Project.” It offers children preparing for a bar or bat mitzvah the chance to connect with the memory of a child lost in the Holocaust. Andrew shares his bar mitzvah with Egon Ertl, who was born in 1933 and lived in Mantov, Czechoslovakia. Egon perished in the Shoah at Birkenau Concentration Camp in 1944. He was 11 years old. As stated in Andrew’s Shabbat book, “We all must remember and never forget those who were taken from us during the Holocaust, this is a sacred responsibility.”

Another project was the Klein Family Walk-a-Thon. After learning that Lisa Klein, a young Jewish mother was diagnosed with an aggressive form of cancer, Andrew created a walk-a-thon.  “We raised over $5,000, which went into a fund for Baby Annie,” said Andrew’s mother, referring to Klein’s daughter. 

Establishing the Andrew Hanin B’nai Tzedek Jewish Philanthropy Fund at the Jewish Federation of St. Louis was his last project. Andrew’s contributions are designated to Camp Ramah in Wisconsin, along with the Mirowitz school and Congregation B’nai Amoona. These are the three institutions that have helped nurture and build Andrew’s Jewish identity as well as his knowledge and love for his Jewish heritage.

Zakai, son of Paulie and Rabbi Carnie Rose of Creve Coeur, was involved in other projects as well. He volunteered twice a month to help with childcare on Shabbat and holidays at B’nai Amoona. He recalls fondly how important childcare was for him when he was a little boy. Gratified is how Zakai feels after a day at shul. He is especially concerned about those with special needs and has a knack for connecting with these children. Zakai will continue to be involved with his congregation’s childcare into the future.

After he was diagnosed with Tourette’s Syndrome in second grade, Zakai’s parents turned to the Tourette’s Syndrome Association (TSA) for support and information. He felt that giving back to the TSA was the right thing to do. It was important to Zakai to honor the mitzvah, or obligation, of giving tzedakah and supporting others (which is part of each Jew’s task to continue to perfect the world that God created). Therefore, he gave a portion of his bar mitzvah money to the TSA, as well as to other organizations that were important to him.

Originally wanting to help out with Habitat for Humanity, Louis, son of Rachel and Alan Taxman of Creve Coeur, was told he needed to be 16 years old. So he put his efforts elsewhere and volunteered at the Harvey Kornblum Food Pantry once a week for three months. Doing physical labor was important to Louis and the food pantry offered just that. He emptied boxes, stocked shelves, and helped fill orders. While there, Louis realized that he was truly helping families with a very basic need. 

 Mitzvot from the Heart is compiled by Elise Krug. To have your child’s mitzvah project featured, email [email protected] or call 314-743-3671.