Bracelet-making teenager raisers funds for Ethiopians

Bracelet-making teenager raisers funds for Ethiopians

BY JILL KASSANDER, SPECIAL TO THE JEWISH LIGHT

Jenny Koshner’s interest in Ethiopian Jewry began with her mom, Rabbi Lynn Goldstein. “My mom has been to Ethiopia and she’s told me tons of stories about Ethiopian Jews. And we have statues and pictures and all different sorts of artifacts from daily life. So I was always really interested and fascinated by Ethiopian Jews,” said Koshner.

She also gained an awareness to the plight of the Ethiopian Jews through Barbara Ribakove Gordon, the founder and executive director of the North American Conference on Ethiopian Jewry (NACOEJ). Said Rabbi Goldstein, “Barbara is a close family friend and stays with us when she is in town. Jenny sometimes came with me when I was making speeches and knew we were selling the embroidered tapestries to benefit Ethiopian Jewry. She wanted to help too. When she was in third grade she saved her allowance to buy one of them on her own.”

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Last summer Koshner attended Camp Emeth and discovered another way she could help Ethiopian Jewry. Said Koshner, “This summer I learned how to make hemp bracelets and really loved making them. I thought of the idea to sell them to benefit Ethiopian Jews. The bracelets have beads in them and some have gold threads running through them. I’ve sold them at a garage sale and to neighbors and some other people I know from other places. I’ve made about $40 – $50 so far.”

When Koshner becomes a bat mitzvah at Kol HaNeshama in October this year she will also be helping Ethiopian Jewry through her participation in the NACOEJ Bar/Bat Mitzvah Twinning Program. “My twin’s name is Tali Elhal and she is in the after school program sponsored by the NACOEJ in Beer Yaakov in Israel,” Koshner said. Koshner is looking forward to exchanging letters with her twin and hopefully meeting her some day. She is also thinking about collecting school supplies or sporting goods at her bat mitzvah to send to Tali’s school in Israel.

This year Koshner is in seventh grade at Solomon Schechter Day School. She has played on the school basketball team for the past two years. Koshner has an advanced purple belt in karate and assists with the younger students in her karate class. On Shabbat mornings you will find her helping with babysitting at Congregation B’nai Amoona.

Every year after Halloween and before Thanksgiving, Koshner and her sister Becky do a candy drive at school for the homeless men at St. Peter and Paul Shelter. “We set out candy bins and put up posters and make speeches asking people to donate candy so that the men at the shelter can have a sweet Thanksgiving,” said Koshner. “They don’t have the opportunity to get sweet things like candy and other things like that too often.”

All proceeds from the bracelets Koshner makes go to the Ethiopian Jews. Said Rabbi Goldstein, “We pick up the cost of supplies. Jenny works very hard on them, she wants each one of them to be perfect.”

If you are interested in purchasing Jenny’s bracelets or necklaces to benefit Ethiopian Jewry, call 314-514-0903. Bracelets are $5 or $6 with gold thread. Necklaces are $7 or $8 with gold thread.