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Teen donates essay prize

A Massachusetts bar mitzvah donated his winnings from a Jewish essay contest to the group that was the subject of his essay.

Daniel Dietz, 13, of Florence, Mass., won first place in the a b’nai mitzvah essay contest sponsored by JVibe, a Jewish teen magazine.

His essay, “Smile Machine,” highlighted the work of The Smile Train, a group that repairs needy children’s cleft lips and palates. He asked that the prize money, which would have bought him an iPod or digital camera, be donated to the organization.

The essay contest for fifth- to ninth-grade students, co-sponsored by the youth empowerment organization Areyvut, was meant to recognize the most creative b’nai mitzvah service projects. Contestants were asked to describe how their projects expressed the Jewish values of chesed (kindness), tzedakah (charity) and tikkun olam (social justice).

Second place went to Ariella Esterkin, for “The Strident Heartbeat.” Pnina Hirsowitz with “A Chinese Batmiztvah Project,” and “Making Connections” by Ryan Meltzer tied for third.

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