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NY Bar Mitzvah Boy Donates $76,000 for the First-Ever Mobile Tech Lab in Israel

NEW YORK,  On the eve of Passover this year, Noah Helfstein, a New York City bar mitzvah boy, will unveil Israel’s first-ever, portable high-tech innovation lab to bring do-it-yourself technology to less fortunate Israeli children. Noah, 13, who attends the 7th grade at the Abraham Joshua Heschel School, worked with UJA-Federation of New York’s “Give a Mitzvah-Do a Mitzvah” program to support this project because of his own interest in 3D printing and educational technology.

Noah’s $76,000 in bar mitzvah gift money will fund the first-ever “Maker Bus” – a specially renovated, full-size bus outfitted with innovative technologies and educational tools that enable “making,” or “self-manufacturing” and “Do-It-Yourself (DIY)” technology including 3D printing.

The Maker Bus will offer regular weekly courses as well as one-time workshops, and is aimed at vulnerable students ages 8 -15, including ultra-religious Jews and Arab students who reside in outlying, less affluent communities in Israel’s north and south.

Israel’s Reut Group and Ofanim, a nonprofit, are both partnering with Noah for the project. The Reut Group has been helping Israel lead in the self-manufacturing movement, which has been heralded as the Third Industrial Revolution, in part through broad social inclusion. Ofanim is Israel's leading organization promoting accessibility of technology and science throughout the Israeli periphery using extensive outreach and mobility.

Noah’s parents, Stacy and Jason Helfstein, his younger sister, Talia, and family friends will join him in Israel for a special dedication and ribbon-cutting ceremony at 10:30 a.m. April 21 in Gan Sacher, Jerusalem, where the Maker Bus will be officially presented for the first time.

“The Give a Mitzvah-Do a Mitzvah program of UJA-Federation enables bar and bat mitzvah students like Noah to put their interests and love for Israel and the Jewish people into action,” said Lori Strouch Kolinsky, director of the Manhattan division of UJA-Federation. “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.”

“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,” said Noah. His parents added: “We are so proud of Noah for choosing this bar mitzvah project and wanting to help disadvantaged children have access to 3D printing and other new technology that Noah enjoys using himself.”

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