Mitzvot from the Heart: Sam Deutsch

As part of his mitzvah project, Sam Deutsch raised money for Camp Sabra. Sam also volunteered with the organization I-Skate. 

By Elise Krug and Joel Grebler

Sam Deutsch, Congregation B’nai Amoona

Sam Deutch’s interests in ice skating and helping others came together to create a meaningful mitzvah project. A junior varsity ice hockey player at Ladue Middle School and a team member of the St. Louis Rockets Youth Hockey Club, Sam was inspired by his older brother, Max, to volunteer with I-Skate, an all-volunteer program that gives people with special needs the opportunity to ice skate. 

John Crowe, the director of I-Skate, said Sam is warm and friendly, initiates conversation (usually with children with serious speech impairments) and creates an atmosphere in which new skills can develop and flourish. 

“Sam has a compassionate, kind maturity beyond his age,” he said. 

Son of Lisa and Jim Deutsch of Creve Coeur, Sam’s commitment to the organization didn’t stop at volunteer work. He donated some of his bar mitzvah money to Camp Sabra, a Missouri Jewish sleepaway camp, to buy new waterskiing equipment. 

He then contacted philanthropist Michael Staenberg of the Staenberg Family Foundation to see if he would be interested in matching a portion of the donations. The two met for coffee to discuss ideas, after which Staenberg agreed to match a portion of Sam’s donation, on one condition: Sam had to raise a large percentage of the money from non-family members, which Sam was able to accomplish. 

Staenberg said that he wanted to inspire Sam to understand philanthropy and that it’s not just having someone write you a check.

“Sam is a great student and great mentee. I am proud to be his mentor and be able to inspire him to do great things in the Jewish community,” Staenberg said.

Sam has been inspired by Staenberg’s passion for giving back to the community. Sam’s mother says that her son is already thinking of additional projects at Camp Sabra that he and Staenberg can collaborate on and fundraise around.