Max Drayer, a 13-year-old from North Woodmere, told his mother that he didn’t want a party for his Bar Mitzvah. That prompted his mother, Tracey, to think of ways to make the Jewish rite of passage more than just a big bash.
“He didn’t want to be the center of attention,” Tracey Drayer said. “I said we’re having a party and let’s make it as meaningful as possible. That’s what led me to incorporate more mitzvoth in the party.”
Instead of traditional cardboard centerpieces that would take up space and eventually be thrown away, the Drayers wanted something that would not go to waste. After several lessons on being humane at Woodmere Middle School that focused on dogs, Max gained an appreciation for the four-legged creatures, despite the family not having one of their own, his mother said. Based on that, Tracey Drayer purchased vases and filled them with dog toys with the intention of donating them to the in Wantagh.
“Max is a Snoopy fan, which he wanted as a theme, and he was on all the dog toys so I knew it was the perfect thing,” his mother said.
After dropping off the toys to the pooches at the shelter in December, the Town of Hempstead recognized the teen’s good deed with a certificate of recognition and Shelter Hero Award.
“Max Drayer is a thoughtful and caring young person who put those qualities into action to help cats and dogs at the Hempstead Town Animal Shelter, “ said Supervisor Kate Murray. “By collecting great items for pets at the town’s shelter, he is improving the quality of life experience for our furry friends that are awaiting adoption.”
But the family didn’t just pamper dogs. Inspired by his Torah portion about Joseph and his amazing coat, Max and his family collected coats at his recent Bar Mitzvah and donated them to the Interfaith Nutrition Network, a non-profit organization that helps Long Islanders in need. About 125 coats were collected.
“I can’t tell you how many people were happy about the coat collection,” Tracey Drayer said. “People like to do altruistic things, they just don’t know how to take the next step. There are ways to do it but you just need the resources or an organization. Everything has a second, third or fourth life like that.”
The family fit in even more good deeds. Each Bar Mitzvah invitation also acted as a Jewish National Fund water certificate to help provide the scarce resource to Israel. And to help the environment, the Drayers asked their guests to email their response cards.
Max was just happy that his celebration served as a way to help people. “All my contributions to the community made me feel better about myself because I knew I was helping people and not just having a party,” he said. “If there is a child having a B’nai Mitzvah soon they should think about things that are meaningful to them and try to come up with creative ways to make those part of their celebration.”