The guests at Gracie Goldstein’s virtual bat mitzvah this month will be celebrating more than this coming-of-age event. The 12-year-old middle schooler from Highland Park recently raised $9,000 (and counting) to benefit the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C.
As part of her mitzvah project assigned by her temple, Gracie chose to make a book to memorialize the events of the past year. One hundred percent of proceeds were donated to the museum to fight the drastic rise of antisemitism worldwide. Gracie chose to support this cause because her 7th grade class has been studying the Holocaust.
“There is no comparing today’s pandemic to living under Nazi rule,” she says. “However, they are both turning points in history that will be studied for years to come.”
Gracie’s 32-page book includes original photos taken by friends and family around the U.S., (from New York to California) showcasing everything from empty cleaning aisles in the supermarket and frontline workers to testing sites and Black Lives Matters protests.
She says while some things we experienced over the past year were “scary” and “unprecedented,” other moments made us slow down and realize what is truly important.
“This book is a time capsule of what life looked like for us. What is ‘normal’ today, wasn’t ‘normal’ a year ago,” says Gracie. “I wanted to look back and share this with my grandkids—and clearly so many other people wanted to, also.”
At first, Gracie offered the book for $25 to those attending her bat mitzvah. But after her mom posted information on her social media channels, word spread far and wide, and even those not invited wanted to purchase several copies. In total, Gracie has sold more than 200 books.
“It was amazing to see her exceed and reach further than what anyone thought would be possible,” says Gracie’s mom, Allison Zisook Goldstein. “So many people gave much more than the suggested donation price. People genuinely wanted to both see the book and help.”
Once she is able to travel safely in a post-COVID world, Gracie hopes to visit the museum with her family.
“Gracie has impressed us all with her creative and meaningful project,” says Jill Weinberg, Midwest Regional Director at U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum. We at the [museum] are grateful to Gracie and her family for enabling the museum to be the recipient of her good work. She turned a challenging Covid year into a positive message of how all can participate to benefit the important mission of Holocaust education and remembrance. She is a great example for the power of what young people can accomplish.”
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