After working on a class tzedaka project as a first-grader at Community Day School, Ari Gilboa was disappointed that his second-grade class had no such project. He went home and asked his mother, Dr. Deborah Gilboa, if he and his three younger brothers might be able to work on one at home.
There is obviously only one answer to that question.
That was back in 2007, and since then, the Gilboa boys — Ari (10), Nadav (8), Oren (6), and Gavri (4) — have done a tzedaka project each year. Last month their efforts were recognized when they were chosen as finalists in the national Jewish Kids Got Talent competition. The boys and their father, Noam, were flown to New York for the awards ceremony, and given prizes for themselves as well as $1,000 to the cause they supported last year: Uncharted Play and sOccket — a soccer ball that generates enough energy after 30 minutes of play to provide three hours of light.
“We saw the commercial for it one day when we were watching the Steelers’ game,” said Deborah Gilboa, a former blogger for the Chronicle. “The children all play soccer competitively, and they all love to read. The boys said, ‘We can do this for our next project.’ ”
Each ball costs about $60. The Gilboa boys set the goal of raising enough money to send about 30 balls to impoverished countries. They are now only about $400 short of their $1,800 goal.
The project is featured on the boys’ website, Gilboaboysgive.org.
The Gilboa boys’ past tzedaka projects included hosting a “no food feast,” raising money for Heifer International, in which the boys invited many people to the “feast,” and donated the money they would have spent on food to feed the hungry.
Just this past November, the boys traveled to Buriram, Thailand, with their parents, where they volunteered for almost a week at the Tree of Life Orphanage.
Jewish Kids Got Talent is a project of Tzivos Hashem: Jewish Children International.
“We started the competition three years ago,” said Rabbi Mendy Weg, program director of Jewish Kids Got Talent. “It’s about showing the power of Jewish children, showing that kids have the power to influence and make real change regardless of their size and age.”
A panel of judges chose three finalists in each of three categories. The Gilboa boys were finalists in the category of HEART for doing something special for others, or performing an extraordinary mitzva. The other two categories are: HAND, in which a child is honored for a particular talent, such as playing a musical instrument, singing, writing a story or poem, producing artwork or performing a comedy skit; and HEAD, in which a child is honored for mastering a difficult concept, researching an important topic or learning Torah teachings by heart.
In his search for children who are making a difference, Weg contacted Rabbi Chezky Rosenfeld of Yeshiva Schools of Pittsburgh, the local affiliate of Tzvios Hashem. Rosenfeld told Weg about the Gilboa boys of CDS, and their commitment to tzedaka.
“They fit the bill,” Weg said of the Gilboa boys. “It was great to have them participate.”
The award ceremony was held at the Jewish Children’s Museum in Brooklyn, which Tzivos Hashem opened in 2005. The museum features hands-on and multimedia exhibits to help children of all faiths learn about Jewish heritage.
“It was a very cool experience for the boys,” said Deborah Gilboa. “And it was great to for them to see that the stuff they’re doing gets other people fired up. It was nice for them to see that doing good can bring fun rewards, even though that’s not the main reason to do it.”
(Toby Tabachnick can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.)