Thirteen-year-old Noah Helfstein decided to spend his Bar Mitzvah gift money, a whooping $76,000, not on video games or sports gear, but on an educational technology lab for underprivileged Israeli kids.
The young New Yorker unveiled Thursday in Jerusalem the mobile educational center, which consists of a bus equipped with interactive technology-themed educational tools, including a 3D printer.
The “Maker Bus,” will run regular courses and workshops for disadvantage youths, including ultra-religious Jews and Arabs from less affluent communities in Israel’s north and south.
“Given my passion for new technology, I chose this project because I would like to give disadvantaged children in Israel the opportunity to interact with new technology. I’m grateful to my family and friends for supporting my project and I’m excited to see the Maker Bus,” Helfstein said.
The project was done in conjunction with the UJA-Federation of New York’s “Give a Mitzvah-Do a Mitzvah” program and Israeli nonprofit organizations Reut Grop and Ofanim.
“We are all so inspired by Noah and his incredible project, which will bring technology education to young Israelis and strengthen the relationship between New York’s Jewish community and Israel,” said Lori Strouch Kolinsky, director of the Manhattan division of UJA-Federation.
Josefin Dolsten is a news fellow at the Forward. She writes about politics and culture, and edits the Sisterhood blog. She received an MA in Jewish Studies and Comparative Religion from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and a BA in Government from Cornell University. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow her on Twitter at @josefindolsten.