Echoing a trend taking hold around the world, 10 bar mitzvah boys from the northern Israeli village of Giv’at Ela spent an evening giving back to the wider community by packing food for the country’s neediest residents at a nearby soup kitchen. In the process, the 12-year-olds, who take part in the bar mitzvah club run by their local Chabad-Lubavitch center saw first-hand how people struggle to feed their families on a daily basis.

“It is important to help other people,” emphasized Or Reinis, an alumnus of the club who participated in the activity last year, “especially when you reach the age of maturity.”

The effort mirrors similar drives undertaken on a regular basis by Chabad-Lubavitch bar and bat mitzvah clubs throughout Israel, the United States and other countries across the globe. In Giv’at Ela, Rabbi Yosef Geldzayler – who teaches the boys such standard bar mitzvah curricula as how to read the Torah and wear tefillin – stressed that performing good deeds is also of primary importance in living a Jewish life.

According to Geldzayler, the visit to the Colel Chabad soup kitchen in Migdal Haemek spurred questions about the nature of poverty and how families cope.

“They thought the box wouldn’t be enough for a week, let alone a month,” said Geldzayler.

“What about medications and heat?” asked some of the boys.

“They really took the idea of helping others to heart,” said Geldzayler later. “The soup kitchen benefited, and so did we.”

Further meetings of the bar mitzvah club will examine holiday practices and traditions; in advance of Chanukah, the boys will harvest their own olives from a local grove and make olive oil to light the menorah.

“I teach them about the chain of generations,” said Geldzayler, “and that we are an important link in that chain.”