Aviva’s Bake Sale

By Rachel Nusbaum, HIAS.org

We got some mail recently that was too good not to share. The letter, addressed to HIAS in neat, elementary-school print, not only made us smile – it served as a reminder that the future is in pretty good hands.


First I would like to thank you for all that you do to help refugees…Even though I am only 9 years old, unfortunately I know about not such great things happening in the world. My parents told me about the war in Syria and about how there are many refugees not just coming from there. I did some research and really wanted to help.

So, 9-year-old Aviva decided to do something to help refugees. She set up a bake sale outside her synagogue’s annual rummage sale. The event regularly attracts hundreds of people from across the community to Congregation Torat El in Oakhurst, New Jersey, according to Aviva’s mom, Jane-Rachel Schonbrun.

“Aviva is very attentive to the news of the world, and often asks us about things she has heard or noticed going on. We try to present her with an age-appropriate version of what is happening, but it is obviously not easy to sugarcoat many of the terrible crises around the world,” Schonbrun explained via email. “We discussed the basics of the refugee crisis with her, and she immediately decided she wanted to have her bake sale support this cause... she liked the idea of giving to HIAS because it is a Jewish organization, and because the funds would support both Jewish and non-Jewish refugees.”

After arming herself with further research on the issue, Aviva presented her proposal to the sisterhood board at Torat El. The idea was a first for them, but they were persuaded by Aviva’s passionate presentation.

Aviva baked an assortment of items for the event, including pumpkin muffins, zucchini bread and several kinds of brownies. Her parents helped with planning and shopping, but the baking was all Aviva. She stood outside the synagogue with her mother for about 5 hours, starting at 7:30 in the morning.  She managed to raise more than $250 in that time.

She also spoke with many curious customers about the purpose of her sale, and why she felt the issue was so important. She knows she has a lot of people to convince. As she wrote:

Recently, after I had my bake sale, my mom told me that since there have been attacks people think it was all the refugees fault and that they should not come to America. Even my governor doesn’t want them to come to New Jersey.

 I am very disappointed that people think that. I don’t think its fair. Its kind of like if someone thought that one Jew did something bad, so all Jews are bad. I would not like that.

Aviva also wrote to both President Obama and New Jersey Senator Cory Booker to tell them how important she felt the issue was, and to thank them for their support of refugees.

The money that Aviva raised will surely help, but the support she showed for refugees is priceless. 

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