Twelve-year-old Torontonian Orli Silverberg is passionate about two things: playing the violin, and making the world a better place. In honour of her bat mitzvah, she decided to combine the two by organizing a violin concert to raise money for children living in Sderot, Israel, with the help of the B’nai Tzedek Teen Philanthropy program at the Jewish Foundation of Greater Toronto, UJA Federation’s endowment and planned giving arm.
Before her bat mitzvah, Orli knew she wanted to raise money for a charitable cause. “I know I’m very lucky,” explained the Havergal College student. “I live in a safe country, and I have everything I need. Other people aren’t as fortunate as me, so I wanted to do what I could to help them out.”
Orli had always felt a strong connection to Israel. Her mother is Israeli, and her family visits the country at least once a year. When she was in Israel this past summer, her family went to visit Sderot. Seeing the city and its citizens for herself made a huge impact on Orli. “I think they are so brave to live there. I was really scared when I was there for just one day, and they live there every day of their lives.”
After researching various causes, she decided to raise money for the people of Sderot. “I felt like they needed the money the most, out of everything I looked at,” explained Orli.
Sderot, located on the border of the Gaza Strip, has been the scene of Qassam rocket attacks for over eight years. Its citizens live in constant fear, yet most of them choose to stay there; after all it is their home.
Back in Toronto, the Silverbergs sent out invitations to their family and friends, inviting them to their home for the concert and requesting a donation to go towards helping the people of Sderot. With her decade of experience playing the violin, and the help of her little sister, Arielle, Orli put on a phenomenal show. She and her family were so grateful by the generosity of the 80 guests who came out to support the cause and collectively contributed $5,000.
Raising money for Sderot made Orli feel more connected to the people living there. Now that she has had a taste of how it feels to give, Orli is addicted. A lot of people contributed, and she realized that she has so much potential to do good in the world, even at such a young age. “Getting involved and giving to charity is such a great thing. Before I actually did it, I had no idea how good it would make me feel. Instead of people buying gifts for me, I am helping people who are really less fortunate. It feels amazing.”