Estrella Benaim z’l was born to Rachel & Jacob Benaim z’l on March 24, 1964 in Tangiers, Morocco. Eight months later, Estrella, her parents, grandparents and six of her siblings arrived in Canada. Estrella’s oldest brother, Albert, had already left Morocco for Israel, while her younger brother Stanley would be born on September 21, 1965.
Estrella was a happy little girl. She was a protective older sister and always willing to lend a helping hand. One afternoon, while in Grade 1 (the only grade that Estrella would attend), Estrella came home from school excited about Parents’ Night; a sentiment Estrella’s mother didn’t share. As a new immigrant, Estrella’s mother, Rachel was dreading Parents’ Night and explained to her youngest daughter that she didn’t want to embarrass her because she couldn’t speak English. Estrella reassured her mother that she could never embarrass her and only regarded her in the highest esteem. When Rachel told the story decades later, She recounted it as if it were only a few days ago. She beamed with pride and explained how Estrella put her at ease with her determination to act as an interpreter for her mother and teacher. She regarded it as one of her fondest memories.
The summer following Grade 1, Estrella’s entrepreneurial spirit was in full force. The days she wasn’t selling lemonade with her younger brother Stan, she’d help her older brother, Judah, with his paper route. Sitting atop the batch of newspapers ready for delivery, in a wagon attached to her brother’s bicycle, they began to make their way down the street. But, before even reaching their first stop, tragedy struck. On July 14, 1971, the little girl was pronounced dead twenty minutes after arriving at North Western Hospital. She was 7 years old.
Estrella’s z’l memory continues to live on. The foundation that bears her name has undertaken various projects in Canada & Israel. Its focus has been helping disadvantaged Jewish youth for decades.
The B’nai Mitzvah BaKotel program headed by Toronto’s Sephardic Community’s organizer, Max Benaim, who arranges for Bar & Bat Mitzvah ceremonies for Israel’s underpreviliged children at the Western Wall.
Children about to enter Jewish adulthood are bussed in from around the State and brought with their families to Jerusalem to celebrate their Bar or Bat Mitzvahs. This year, this most important program will for the first time; provide orphaned children their very special day.
Benaim says: “to live is to give, and there is nothing more important in a Jewish child’s life than for them to know that whatever their situation, Am Israel will always be there for them”.
For this reason, the Estrella Benaim z’l foundation considers helping our Jewish children a special mission. Providing the boys with prayer shawls and phylacteries, and the girls a commemorative gift marking their entrance into Jewish womanhood, The B’nai Mitzvah program is one complete with a reception and special ceremony at the Kotel. The entire 2-day program is one full of joy and happiness.
To say, that this program gives to the kids isn’t entirely accurate, it is the children who provide the sponsors, participants, and organizers alike the tremendous joy and gratitude to be part of their special day and to play a small role in their mitzvah is the greatest gift of all. It’s as an inspiring sight as any, to see how happy these children become, and the light beaming on their faces, almost seems to reflect off the Kotel and ascends to the heavens.
This is all made possible thanks to people like you.
Thank you for providing these youths with the proper Bar & Bat Mitzvah ceremony they so richly deserve.
Estrella Benaim z’l Foundation.
- Prayer Shawl (Talit)
- Phylacteries (Tefilin)
- Bat Mitzvah Gift
- Prayer Book (Siddur)
- Meals & Transportation
For over 40 years, Estrella & Max Benaim have been active in Toronto’s Sephardic community, lending their free time to helping others, specifically Jewish youth. The B’nai Mitzvah BaKotel project has become the nearest and dearest project to their hearts.
With your help and commitment, this very important program will continue and ensure that all of Israel’s B’nai Mitzvah children are recognized and celebrated.
Their belief that tomorrow’s leaders are today’s youth and those who will be commanded to protect all of us by way of putting their life in peril for all of us – they should know well before that they are loved by Am Israel the world over.
Your gift will inspire the children and provide a brief respite from their lives. We encourage you to join us in Israel and watch first-hand the impact your $850 tax-deductible gift creates.
Next year in Jerusalem!