Earlier this week Jennifer Rasansky’s bat mitzvah t-shirt made news when it was mentioned in a story by Planet Money (for NPR) on the afterlife of American clothes. The gist is this: when you donate used clothing to Goodwill, Purple Heart, or similar charities, most of that clothing is ultimately sent overseas and never sees the inside of a Goodwill store. According to Planet Money’s reporting, much of that clothing ends up in markets in sub-Saharan Africa.
And that’s where the Planet Money team found Jennifer’s bat mitzvah t-shirt–in a clothing market in Nairobi, Kenya. This particular t-shirt had a name label inside–you know, the ones your mom ironed on for days before you went to summer camp? With a little legwork, JTA reporter Adam Soclof tracked down Rachel Williams (now Aaronson), whose camp nametag was inside the shirt, and she put him in touch with the bat mitzvah, Jennifer Rasansky (formerly Slaim).
Rachel told JTA that she had kept a number of t-shirts from bar and bat mitzvahs for years, but her mom finally gave them away a few years ago. She’s glad that her shirts are getting a second life with people who need them.
And by the way, Rachel went to Camp Tamarack in Michigan. Maybe you know her? And if you had t-shirts made for your bat mitzvah, have you ever wondered where in the world they might be?
After Adam’s sleuthing found the two women, Planet Money followed up with them. Listen to the interview with Rachel and bat mitzvah girl Jennifer below. Click here to open the story in another window if you’re having trouble with the player.