by BECCA BARR | photos by Zeena Gregg Photography

Young Philanthropist

Many children today take their lifestyle for granted. Not Bella Silberstein. For the past two years on her birthday, Bella has asked her friends and family to make a monetary donation to a girls’ orphanage in lieu of gifts. “I have a very blessed life,” Bella observed, “and the part that really hurts inside is that I know every night when mom and dad come into my room and say a prayer for me and kiss me on the forehead, I know that the girls in the orphanage don’t have that.”

student_silberstein2Bella, age 12, has chosen the orphanage Lev LaLev as the recipient of these donations. For the past 55 years, the orphanage, which is located in Netanya, Israel, has been offering many services for disadvantaged and orphaned girls. Besides meeting basic food and shelter needs, Lev LaLev also provides girls therapy, mentoring, and tutoring, and will also support the girls’ life cycle events, including Bat Mitzvahs, graduations, and weddings. “The girls in Lev LaLev have inspired me to be a better person because they have gone through so many challenges in their lives,” related Bella. In the past few years, she has raised over $3,000 for Lev LaLev. Some of this money has come through donations from family and friends, but Bella also holds mini fundraisers throughout the year to raise additional funds, including selling handmade bracelets, Rosh Hashanah cards, and Purim masks.

A Carmel Valley native, Bella attends the San Diego Jewish Academy and is currently in seventh grade. She is involved in The Lions Ambassadors at school. “We are the representatives of our school and serve a very special role in welcoming new students, participating in school wide events, and showing potential new students around our campus,” Bella explained. Outside of school, she holds a position on her Jr. USY Board (USY is her synagogue’s youth program). She plays volleyball with her friends at school, loves to bake with her grandmother, and enjoys helping her mother prepare for Friday Shabbat dinner.

As for future plans, Bella has no career in mind yet, but is certain that it will involve working with people and making a difference in the world. While she feels a little shy about getting attention for her work with Lev LaLev, she agrees with her mom, who thinks it’s important for young kids to know that they too can make difference. Wherever life leads Bella, she is already making a major impact in the world!

Name: Bella Silberstein (12)
School: San Diego Jewish Academy
Grade: 7
Parents: Heidi and Russell Silberstein
Siblings: Maya (14) and Jack (9)
Favorite Local Spots: UTC, Del Mar Highlands