Keren Fisher’s goal isn’t to build bridges in the community when she and other volunteers package Purim baskets to help fund AMIT Children in Israel, but it is one of her achievements.
AMIT Children is a network of 100 schools. They are in Israel’s poorest and wealthiest neighborhoods and everywhere in between, Fisher said. The schools are good at absorbing immigrants and are often asked by the government to run other institutions.
“I really believe in giving everyone a good education, and when you are giving people a foundation, … they become productive citizens,” said Fisher, an Atlanta native and mother of four.
Every Purim, an email invites people to purchase Purim mishloach manot baskets for $3. A recipient gets one basket with a note listing all the people who donated on that person’s behalf. People who receive fewer than 12 donations get cards instead of baskets.
The basket’s contents change every year, and it includes gourmet kosher products that are difficult to find locally. There has been an effort to go green the past several years, Fisher said, with items such as reusable containers, bamboo salad bowls and zip-up picnic blankets.
Price increases for some products create a challenge for the project, Fisher said. “We want to keep it great, so people feel and know their friends are going to get something really nice if they send through AMIT.”
As a result, Fisher decided to raise the number of donations required for a basket delivery from 10 to 12.
She became more involved with the Purim program after moving back to Atlanta and felt that that the project needed to be brought forward. The number of baskets packed and delivered has more than doubled from 250 five years ago.
More than 60 people pack the baskets, and 50 people from nine synagogues and six Jewish day schools deliver them on Purim. The volunteers range in age from 8 to their 80s.
“Every person that helps is critical to the project’s success,” Fisher said.
“It’s important for me to get people involved that have been a part of the project for decades,” she said.
Three years ago, the fundraiser began to earmark the proceeds. The project has built a playground, outside classrooms and a biblical garden for an elementary school in Sderot, has sponsored scholarships for students in Rehovot, and has paid for teacher training for a robotics course in Be’er Sheva.
Israeli schools have sent thank-you notes and photos of children at play and of scholarship recipients.
“I feel that this program is building a tangible connection between people in Atlanta and Israel,” Fisher said. “I think it’s important for people in Israel to know, especially in more challenging times, that Jewish people all over the world care about them.”