Mitzvot from the heart – Bella Adler, Young Israel

Bella Adler chose to help Project Backpack for her mitzvah project.

Bella Adler, daughter of Aviva Raskas Adler and Moshe Adler of University City, is very “crafty” and loves doing art projects with family and friends. So, it made perfect sense to incorporate her mitzvah project into her bat mitzvah celebration.

Guests were able to share in Bella’s zest for tikkun olam by decorating bags that were filled with art supplies and donated to Project Backpack. This organization provides backpacks to children who are removed from their homes usually with nothing but the clothes on their backs. The backpacks are age and gender appropriate and make the transition from crises situations to foster homes more tolerable.

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Bella chose this mitzvah project because it reflected her personal interests and would benefit children in the St. Louis community. She knew these bags, filled with crayons, coloring books, pads of paper, stickers, pencils and erasers, would go directly to the kids. Her centerpieces that included stuffed animals were donated to Project Backpack as well.

During her bat mitzvah celebration, Bella spoke about the importance of an individual contributing to the community, much as her great-grandmother Erna Waltuch, who passed away in October 2009, had done. “This chesed project was a means for Bella to become an individual who contributes to her community,” said her mother. Bella was thrilled with the outcome of her project. She had anticipated making 75 bags, but the response from her guests was so positive, they filled over 100.

Project Backpack’s Executive Director, Judy Pearlstone, has a special connection to the Adler family. Judy had been a frequent substitute teacher for Bella at H.F. Epstein Hebrew Academy, and was her mother’s fourth grade teacher when she attended Epstein. Judy has since invited Bella to help fill backpacks with Project Backpack.

To help support Project Backpack, call 314-993-3033 or visit for more information.