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Keynote Inspiration

Posted on 11/09/2010 @ 11:27 AM

Meeting Mr. Simon Greer

Read more about The Big EASY through the eyes of a teen participant, Hannah Perry, Omaha, NE.

Our first night, we met with Simon Greer, the CEO & President of The Jewish Funds for Justice. Mr. Greer came to speak with us about what he’s done to save the environment, why we should advocate to conserve it, and what he believed was holding people back from doing that. As the CEO for Jewish Funds for Justice, he had already done many things like preventing a company called Waste Management from building bio-hazardous waste incinerators in poor neighborhoods in California, among others. Even more recently, he’s working with other organizations to help save the Bayou of New Orleans, preventing pollution from killing the wildlife and helping make the oil spill more tolerable for those who slave away cleaning it up every day.

He’s already working on many things to change the world, but that doesn’t mean that everyone else is. During his presentation, he showed us a video called, “Al-Tirah! Fear!” Like Greer, I believe fear holds people back from truly making a change in the world. We naturally fear the unknown, whether it’s “immigrants, gay people, robots or bears,” as Stephen Colbert said. The unknown is a scary thing, like in New Orleans how they thought they were evacuating for three days, then ended up away from their homes for months and ended up in an unknown state of limbo, without a place to live or clothes to wear.

From Mr. Greer’s presentation I learned exactly why things that don’t work, or are unjust to people never change. People must learn to work past their fear and make change happen. When I go home later today, I know exactly what to tell my BBYO council, my peers at school, and all the adults in my life who care to listen. I’ll tell them to stop being so scared to reform their beliefs, and to accept other people without being so afraid of the fact that we don’t understand them or don’t know what the results will be. Thank you, PANIM for helping me reach my goal to learn how to make change happen.

This is the Place to Keep Up With Panim el Panim!

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Day Two at The Big EASY

Posted on 11/09/2010 @ 10:00 AM

Read more about The Big EASY through the eyes of a teen participant, Leah Marcone.

I arrived at New Orleans two days ago, November 7, 2010. At first I was not sure what to expect, but that soon changed. After hanging around in the airport waiting for everyone to arrive, we went to the hotel. I was a bit nervous because I was seated with people I had never talked to, that also quickly changed. I specifically bonded with two girls from Dallas, Texas. Later that day I got to hear Vice President Joe Biden speak at the GA (General Assembly). We were the first teens to ever attend the GA. Yesterday, November 8, 2010, we learned about the organization “Save our Lake.” We then went on a tour of New Orleans and saw how some parts were built up, yet some parts were still in bad shape.

After the tour we went to our service project which was so much fun. We cleaned up an empty lot, which in turn would allow a house to be built there. We had the privilege of hearing members of the community speak to us. This made me realize how much of an impact we really made. After the service we discussed how we all felt from the knowledge we acquired thus far. To end off the day we walked around downtown and went to Cafe Du Monde. I cannot explain how enjoyable, inspirational, and what a great learning experience this has been. I don’t want this to end and am very sad that it is ending tomorrow.

This is the Place to Keep Up With Panim el Panim!

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Serving NOLA

Posted on 11/09/2010 @ 08:00 AM

On Monday the teen participants in The Big EASY participated in Volunteer NOLA with all of the participants of the JFNA's General Assembly. The teens participated with Beacon of Hope for their service project.  Below is a reflection on their service.

While ripping through what seemed to be a jungle full of weeds, we discovered a sidewalk. Finding a sidewalk may not seem like a big deal to most, but discovering this recognizable, everyday landmark while cleaning up an empty lot we realized that the lot used to have a home that was destroyed by hurricane Katrina.

This find reminded me and the group of teens I was with that this lot used to be someone's home. That's when we realized that the hundreds of lots around us were all once people's homes and that the largest vacant lot in the area used to be a school where all the neighborhood kids attended. We were cleaning the lots so that the neighborhood in the lower ninth ward of New Orleans would be safer for these kids and their parents.

All 77 teens were there helping and not only were we able to clear the sidewalk but we were able to clear multiple lots all across the neighborhood. The effect that we made was great but once the hundreds of volunteers from the rest of the general assembly joined we realized just how big of a difference a motivated group of Jews could make.

In the last minutes of our project an elderly man and I were working together to clear a bush that was covered in poison oak when I noticed his British accent. I asked him about it and he told me that he had escaped from Germany to England through the kindertransport. Working to help the future with this man who still had hope despite his hard past made me even more motivated to continue my involvement in the Jewish community and community service projects across the globe.

This is the Place to Keep Up With Panim el Panim!

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Big EASY Blog

Posted on 11/05/2010 @ 08:00 PM

From November 7-9, 82 teens will be participating in The Big EASY: A Jewish Teen Summit on the Environment, hosted by the PANIM Institute of BBYO. With guidance from PANIM’s educators and staff they will look through a Jewish values lens at the before and after of today’s environmental disasters from a public policy and social justice perspective, using the backdrop of New Orleans as a case study.

This is the Place for All of The Big EASY News

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