Mitzvot from the Heart: Ari Lieberman

Ari Lieberman

Compiled by Elise Krug

Ari Lieberman, Congregation Shaare Emeth

“When I was originally looking for mitzvah project ideas, I wanted to find a foundation I could support that involved soccer, which is my favorite sport,” said Ari, son of Kim and Steve Lieberman of Chesterfield. “My parents showed me Soccer for Peace and I was immediately touched by their mission.”

Understanding the conflicts in the Middle East, Ari liked the idea of Jewish and Arab boys playing soccer together and learning how to live in peace with one another. “I really felt I could make a difference in the world and in future generations by supporting Soccer for Peace, so I decided to help them,” he noted.

Ari, a student at Crestview Middle School, started his project with a Root Funding page, an online fundraising service that provides the supporters of a non-profit with the ability to create and manage their own independent fundraising campaigns. He was able to request donations for Soccer for Peace on his own page, which included a personal message and displayed videos about the organization. 

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Along with online donations, Ari hosted a penalty kick competition before one of the St. Louis Ambush games. Kids were able to take penalty shots at the Ambush goalie and clock their kick with a speed gun for donations. Thanks to the help of the Lou Fusz soccer club and his Lou Fusz soccer team, Ari’s event was very successful.

In combination with online fundraising, the penalty kick competition and having a table at the MOSHE breakfast at Congregation Shaare Emeth, Ari was able to surpass his goal of $2,500. “When I saw that I had reached my goal, I was so proud not only of myself, but proud of what I had done for a country and region thousands of miles away,” he said. “By supporting Soccer for Peace, I learned to give back to others and to help others.”

The soccer theme continued with Ari’s bar mitzvah party. His centerpieces included the indestructible One World Futbols of the One World Futbol Project. These soccer balls are designed for the toughest of environments (streets, rocky landscapes, dirt lots, etc.), never needs a pump, never goes flat, and will last for years without maintenance. 

Ari’s family purchased 20 futbols and shipped them to Israel after the party. They were then donated to several schools and youth programs in Yokneam Megiddo, St. Louis’ sister cities. Ari’s father said that sending the soccer balls to these special children was truly heartwarming. The Lieberman family received many thank-you notes and pictures of the children playing with the futbols in return.

They also received a video from Israel showing the kids’ appreciation. To view it, visit http://bit.ly/1K28p9V.

For more information about Soccer for Peace and One World Futbol Project, visit soccerforpeace.com and oneworldplayproject.com.