Saturday, April 22, 2017

A Bat Mitzvah in the slums of Mumbai

Naama Teitel, the 12-year old daughter of Gabriel Project Mumbai(GPM) Board member Gladys Delman Teitel and her husband Greg, decided to dedicate her Bat Mitzvah to the children in the slums of India. In December 2016, Naama and her parents traveled from their home in Connecticut to India. Together, they explored their maternal family roots in the Bene Israel Indian Jewish community and came to Mumbai and volunteered with children in the Kalwa slum through the programs of GPM. Naama taught classes and prepared classroom educational materials for the kids in GPM's Love2Learn classes. She also raised over $2600 for the GPM vaccination program in the Shravan Health Center. “I think that it is very important for children to receive vaccinations because it prevents diseases or even death from occurring,” she wrote on her fundraising page. Her mother, Gladys, wrote about the trip: “It was a life changing experience on so many levels.”

Before leaving for Mumbai, Naama taught her class in the Bi-Cultural Day School (BCDS) in Stamford, CT how to dance the “Macarena”, and she videotaped the group doing the dance. One of the fun activities she did in Kalwa was to teach the kids how to dance the Macarena as well. The video of the two classes – one in Stamford and one in Kalwa – doing the Macarena can be seen here on the GPM YouTube channel. Naama's class at BCDS also created posters about life in Stamford with all their names on them. When Naama came to Kalwa, the children presented her with posters that they
prepared about life in Kalwa with their names on it. The children traded posters as part of a young cultural exchange, and spent time learning about one another. The posters now hang in classes in Stamford and in Kalwa.

This is the second time that the Teitel family decided to celebrate a child’s bat mitzvah with the GPM family in Kalwa. Three years ago, Gladys and Greg travelled with their oldest daughter, Sophie to India, to celebrate her Bat Mitzvah, explore their Bene Israel roots and to spend time in the slums. "The Teitel family visit exemplifies the values of mutual respect and global connectivity that we try so hard to instill with our work,” said GPM Founding Director Jacob Sztokman. “I am so honored and awed by the vision of Gladys, Greg, Naama, Sophie and the whole family. They have enormous hearts and are a model of giving and care that we should all emulate.”

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