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Upper East Side girl turns Bat Mitzvah into mission to help seniors

Upper East Side girl uses Bat Mitzvah to give back to seniors in need
Upper East Side girl uses Bat Mitzvah to give back to seniors in need 02:04

NEW YORK - Bat Mitzvah is a special rite of passage for Jewish girls as they come of age. Instead of a big party, though, one girl from the Upper East Side turned her Bat Mitzvah into a mission to help others.

Reverence for the religious teachings of the Torah has etched its way onto Sylvie Weiss's heart. Her family and friends joined to celebrate as she walks into womanhood. But for her big day, Weiss wants the focus elsewhere.

"I didn't want all the attention on me," Weiss said. "I really want to, like, help the community and help people that need it ... Because I think with a Bat Mitzvah, it's saying, like, you should be an adult now, and adults really do serious things."

Weiss is serious about service. Her familiar face regularly greets neighborhood seniors with food donated to the nonprofit organization Dorot.

"I was taking packages from the Dorot building and delivering them to people that were homebound and elderly," Weiss said, "and when I was thinking of what to do for my Bat Mitzvah project, Dorot came to mind."

She put together a packing party, reaching out to local businesses for donations and enlisting the help of her friends at Ramaz Middle School to fill bags for the seniors she serves, including an array of healthy snacks along with games to keep their minds sharp.

"I think it's so exciting that we're really training leaders of tomorrow, and they're picking up the helm at a very young age and wanting to do more, wanting to give back," said Ramaz principal Jennifer Bernstein.

During this season of giving, not even birthday or Chanukah presents can outshine a genuine smile.

"Receiving gifts is always fun, but it does feel good when I'm, when I'm giving out gifts," Weiss said. "I love to find something that's really good for them and it's just fun to see their face like lift up."

More pleasing than what goes inside the bags may just be the love and energy put into packing them.

Each of Sylvie's friends made two bags, one for a senior served by Dorot and one for their own neighbor in need.

Have a story idea or tip in Harlem? Email Jessi by CLICKING HERE.

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