In the impoverished Yud Aleph neighborhood in Be’ersheva, which is a rough neighborhood populated mainly by immigrants from the former Soviet Union and Ethiopia; the children of Rimonim Elementary School are amazed. The once decrepit basketball court at their school was overnight transformed into a new state of the art basketball court. But as if this were not exciting enough for them, starting in January 2013, advanced basketball lessons will be given to them at this basketball court twice per week from a professional seasoned couch, free of charge, complete with brand new basketball uniforms that have already been purchased for them.

After suffering immensely from the constant barrage of rocket attacks against Be’ersheva during Operation Pillar of Defense and also prior to that, the basketball court was just what these children needed in order to feel better. During the war, Be’ersheva’s children were cooped up inside bomb shelters and traumatized, without having the ability to go outside and to play basketball. But as if living under rocket fire was not already a significant difficulty, these children also had the additional struggle of being the children of immigrants who live below the poverty line and thus don’t have the financial means to provide them with access to brand new basketball courts.

Yet what is even more amazing aside from this kind gesture to these underprivileged Israeli children is that the person behind this initiative is a 13-year-old American Bar Mitzvah boy from New York named Daniel Klosk. Upon completing his Bar Mitzvah, he decided to combine his love of basketball with his support for Israel by using his Bar Mitzvah money to create a basketball project for children his age in Israel who lacked the means to one day play basketball professionally.

It is not a coincidence that Daniel Klosk plays basketball on the New Renaissance Team of New York, which is a nationally ranked Division One Team of the American Athletic Union. Klosk’s basketball team was placed at number ten throughout the US at the 6th AAU National Tournament. In August 2012, Klosk himself won MVP of the Sixth Grade Game of the JEM ALL Star Classic and asserts that he is one of the best pure shooters within the United States for his age group. In other words, he has great potential to build a career for himself as a basketball player when he gets older.

Klosk asserted, “I thought it’s important to give the kids in the neighborhood not only a new basketball court, but also the opportunity to enjoy the experience of learning and playing competitively on a real basketball team, with a real basketball coach, and to give them the same kind of opportunity that was given to me. I hope that this basketball training will give the kids the inspiration, ability, and motivation, to successfully overcome their daily challenges.

Sheila Devore, director of the Center for Youth Philanthropy and Leadership at the UJA-Federation stated, “The Give a Mitzvah–Do a Mitzvah program of the UJA-Federation of New York enables bar and bat mitzvah students to create their own unique mitzvah project that connects their interests and hobbies. Daniel’s project is truly amazing. Not only does it provide other young kids a great example of how to become more involved in philanthropy, it also helps to strengthen the relationship between the Jewish community in New York and in Israel.”