Often, there are little events that lead to lasting impacts on our lives. This is the story of how one boy used his personal inspiration to inspire hundreds more.
Back in 2018, I was having a lot of trouble with most areas of Judaism. I hadn’t kept Shabbos in close to two years and wasn’t having any luck connecting to Hashem. I felt myself drifting away from Hashem day by day. One day, when I was in 12th grade, I went boarded a crowded subway to go to school. As I was minding my own business, a woman began yelling at me because my knee bumped into her purse. I brushed it off until I got off the train and started walking to school. While I was walking, again minding my own business, a man rolled down his car window and began yelling at me to take my headphones off. At this point, all the condescension began getting to me. I had stayed up all night on my phone so my patience was running out. I knew it was going to be a horrible day and that nothing was going to go right.
When I arrived at school that day, I told my rebbe about what had happened on my way there. He told me that he could help me change how people look at me and interact with me.
“Go to Judaica Place and pick up a pair of tzitzis,” he said.
I thought to myself, “How would that help me?” But I trusted him. I did what he said, picked them up during one break, put them on for the rest of the school day.
When I finished school that day, I was getting ready to walk home. I walked outside, took off my yarmulke (I wore it only when I was required to in school) and started walking to the train. As I was walking, I saw my tzitzis strings hit off my leg.
I thought to myself, “How weird must it look to have tzitzis but no yarmulke.”
So I put the yarmulke back on and continued home. Later that night I went out with my friend and kept the tzitzis and yarmulke on. As we were walking down a street and I dropped a curse word. A non-Jewish woman turned towards me and said, ”That’s not the way a Jewish boy should talk.”
“What does she know?” I thought. I continued walking with my friend. When I was about to use the same word again, this time, I thought about what the woman had said. “Forget it I don’t need to say it,” I told myself.
When I got home and thought about what had happened that evening, I remembered something my rebbi once said during class. “Your restrictions are what makes you a part of a group,” he had said.
I always thought how can you say a statement that applies to everyone. For the previous year, I had tried to hide that fact that I was Jewish. I was trying to fit into society and not stand out. Then it hit me. I’m not a part of anything. I live my life like them yet I’m not one of them. After a week or two I thought to myself, “I can’t just stay in this middle ground forever. I need to make a goal.”
So I decided to try and keep Shabbos again. Before every Shabbos, I would give my phone to a rabbi who lived close to my house and I would try to keep Shabbos fully. I was very successful.
Starting Project Tzitzis
After about a month I began keeping Shabbos again, I was invited to eat a Shabbos meal by the Becher family. After the meal, Mr. Sholom Becher came over to me and said, “I’ll put $1000 dollars towards getting people tzitzis who don’t have.”
”Awesome, let’s do it!” I responded.
After Shabbos ended, he sent me a logo and wrote, “Lets call it Project Tzitzis.”
For the next couple of months, we worked towards getting people tzitzis. After we had given out many pairs and encouraged many to begin wearing tzitzis, I asked him, “How much money do we have left?”
“We are way beyond the original $1000,“ he said.
We continued. Today, we are about to hit 4,000 pairs of tzitzis given out and iy’h will keep growing.
I would like to publicly thank Mr Sholom Becher for all the work he put into this organization; he keeps it running as smoothly as it does.