Tzedakah has always been an integral part of being a Jew. Today, that mitzvah has too often become epitomized by an exasperated reach for the wallet, or a billionaire writing a check for some amount normal minds can’t grasp.

The experience of Tzedaka, or even more so Chesed, has so much more potential in the Jewish experience. Dorot, a three decade endeavor, epitomizes this and especially so in a recent project involving a simple game of chess, using it to connect generations and bring joy.

This heartwarming story is all about a very special Bar Mitzvah present Zachary Targoff received and how it connected Jewish souls, young and old, and how it kept alive a part of the Jewish people that was lost in the holocaust.

A year ago, for his Bar Mitzvah project, Zachary Targoff had an idea to find an elderly New Yorker (who loves chess like he does) to play with once a week. The organization DOROT was able to pair the Zachary and 90-year-old Holocaust survivor Herman Bomze together.

What transpired between Zachary and Herman was a friendship that let them learn things about each other’s lives, while playing a game that they both loved. At Zachary’s Bar Mitzvah, Herman gave him his father’s chess board that Herman smuggled out of the Holocaust when he was a boy – his father would not survive. As a product of their friendship, Zachary and Herman have created the highly-successful program in NYC that brings together young and old weekly for chess.

DOROT is an organization that alleviates social isolation among the elderly in New York City and surrounding areas. One of its new programs, Intergenerational Chess, aims to push young chess players to play with an older generation that is often homebound. DOROT’s program mission to “share your love of the game and bring a smile to a senior” has engaged both generations to meet weekly for chess.