Teen Travels to Native Guatemala for Mitzvah Project

When a Jewish boy turns 13, he becomes a bar mitzvah and is considered an adult. But before that could happen, he is obligated to give back to the world by doing mitzvahs, or good deeds.

Seth Frey, a seventh grader at Grover Cleveland Middle School in Caldwell, chose to go to his native Guatemala to help build a home for a poor family.

Seth, who recently turned 13, was adopted from Guatemala when he was six-months-old. He traveled to his birth country this August for the third time, but this visit was dedicated to his mitzvah project.

He spent a week working alongside his parents, Ronni and Chris, and sister Molly, a sixth grader at Grover Cleveland, to build a 13-by-9 foot concrete home for a family in a small village.

This is what Seth wrote about the project:

I chose to do a very special Mitzvah Project, one that had a great deal of meaning to me. I traveled with my family this past summer to Guatemala, the country where I was born. It is a very poor country and many people who live there do not have safe and comfortable houses to live in. When we arrived in Guatemala, we traveled to a town called Santa Maria de Jesus and met the Yuman Morales Family. The family had a mother, Olga, a father, Victor, and two children, Jose and Fatima, who are 5 and 3 years old. This family was living in a small shack that did not have solid walls to keep the water out. It was built out of corn stalks, plastic and tin. Together with an organization called From Houses to Homes, my family and I helped the Yuman Morales Family to build a new home. Before our trip I was able to raise all of the money necessary to buy the building materials for the new home. My sister, Molly, raised money by selling snacks at my soccer game, to buy the family their first stove. I raised money by selling Guatemalan friendship bracelets and also through the generous donations from many family and friends. In one week’s time, we built this family a new 13-by-9 foot house made of concrete, one that will protect them from the weather and keep them safe and comfortable. It was hard work but so worth the effort!

Seth has played travel soccer for Caldwell-West Caldwell for six years. He is an avid tennis player and plays with his father as often as he can. He’s also a drummer and will play in a band with his cousins, “Los Primos,” at his Bar Mitzvah party.

He will become a bar mitzvah on Saturday, Nov. 17 at Congregation Agudath Israel of West Essex in Caldwell.


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