My name is Dylan Michael Friedland. I live in Miami, Florida and I recently turned 13 years of age. I live with my mom Rachel and my three younger siblings: Alec, my brother who is ten years old, my sister Ella who is five years old, and my sister Camryn, who recently turned two years old.
My mom has been volunteering for the American Friends of Beit Issie Shapiro since I was a very little kid. She always told me that she was helping because she wanted to help the children in Israel who needed the help the most.
When I was 17 months old, I had to have tubes put in my ears because I couldn't hear well. My issue was only that I had water in my ears that didn't drain. Because I was a late speaker, my mom had to take me to speech therapy. She said for months she would sit with me and therapists in a therapy center and she was drawn to the other children in the therapy rooms with severe disabilities. She was glad they too were getting help, but she knew the facilities in the United States weren't anything like what they have at Beit Issie Shapiro.
A few years after I was born, my first cousin Ben was born and later diagnosed with autism. Ben has been getting therapy here in the United States since he was little. I am lucky to spend time with Ben and see his growth. Ben is growing and developing beautifully, but my family has always said we wished Ben was getting the intense therapy and newest treatments and help they provide in Israel at Beit Issie Shapiro.
On the weekends, Ben often goes swimming with me and my brother and sisters. Ben plays ball with us, he goes fishing with us, and we even take him out on our boat and pull him on the inner tube. Ben is limited in what he can do and what we can do with him.
I am a black belt in karate, I love to play hockey, basketball and golf. I am studying in excelled level classes. I hope to graduate high school with at least two years of college credits so I can go on in academics and get a higher degree. I know all that I am working to accomplish can be mine if I work hard. I also know these are things Ben, and other children like him, may never accomplish.
As part of my Bar Mitzvah Project, I want to help other children like Ben. I want to help another child the milestone of becoming a man at thirteen in the Jewish religion.
Beit Issie Shapiro’s motto is Every Child Deserves A Chance. My hope is to celebrate my Bar Mitzvah with another child at Beit Issie Shapiro so they can have a chance to experience this Jewish Mitzvah and their family can know others are thinking of them.
Beit Issie Shapiro has matched me up with Oren. And on April 1, 2017, when I chant my prayers before the congregation at the Aventura Turnberry Jewish Center, I will not only be chanting for myself and my family, I will be chanting and helping a child who can’t reach this milestone on his own.
Oren is 12 years old, he has mild intellectual disabilities and has been attending the school at Beit Issie Shapiro now for 10 years! Oren is always smiling, very friendly and is loved by everyone that meets him!
As part of my Bar Mitzvah project, this past year, I helped raise money for Beit IssieShapiro by organizing kids activities and events at the American Friends of Beit Issie Shapiro Family Day that was held at Acqualina Hotel in Sunny Isles Beach, Florida . I helped get the entertainment for the kids, organize activities and get sponsors to make the day a big success. The money we raised went right back to helping the kids in Israel at Beit Issie Shapiro.
This coming summer, G-d willing, I will be traveling to Israel to meet Oren. I am looking forward to this day and looking forward to bringing him special gifts from Miami and from our Bar Mitzvah Day.
We all know that some children are born with health problems and disabilities – but what I know, is that I have to be one of the people who looks out for them and offers help. I am so happy to know that there is a place like Beit Issie Shapiro that is helping the children in Israel and looking to help more children throughout the world.
I am so honored and proud to know that on April 1, as I chant at my Bar Mitzvah, I will be sharing this mitzvah with Oren in Israel. I will become a Bar Mitzvah along side of Oren and I will know this day and this mitzvah, is not just about me.