Orlando Jewish teens served their community at J-Serve
Read this story in Heritage Florida Jewish News
Ninety-three teens from the Greater Orlando area, along with 11,000 Jewish teens in 80 communities across 16 countries, participated in a day of community service and improvement projects as they took part in J‑Serve, the International Day of Jewish Youth Service on April 12.
This year marks the eleventh year that Jewish youth from around the world turned out in force for J‑Serve in an effort to encourage community building and connections across religious and societal lines.
Orlando's J-Serve was teen-led by the J-Serve Teen Task Force consisting of Hannah Fenster, Jonah Goldberg, Jordan Harris, Taylor Harris, Jonathan Hefley, Rebecca Michel, Sarah Michel, Daniel Perreault, Dana Samelson, Danielle Samelson, Emily Weinstein, Hannah Wieselthier, and Zachary Wieselthier. The service projects were hosted in partnership with Jewish Family Services, Jewish Pavilion, BASE Camp and Community Food and Outreach Center. Teen participants could choose one service site to volunteer at on April 12 with options varying from creating arts and crafts for Jewish older adults to assisting in a cost share grocery program.
"We were so happy to host the J-Serve teens at JFS Orlando. They partnered with JFS in the Pearlman Food Pantry and exhibited a deep sense of Jewish obligation to provide for the less fortunate in our community," said JFS Orlando Executive Director Eric Geboff, MSW.
The teens were also joined by guest educators Ira Dounn, a Jewish educator and rabbinical student from New York, and Erica Hruby, assistant director of Central Florida Hillel, to help open and close the day of service.
"J-Serve allowed me to connect to my community by working at the Jewish Pavilion project and learn about myself and my Judaism. Participating in J-Serve was an incredible opportunity, and I cannot wait to participate again next year," said Arielle Cohen, a high school junior at Edgewater High School.
Orlando J-Serve was one of over 200 international projects in which teens in grades 6-12 teens participated, as they explored the Jewish values of gemilut chasidim, acts of loving kindness; tzedakah, just and charitable giving; and tikkum olam, the responsibility to repair the world.
J‑Serve 2015 is the Jewish service component of Youth Service America's annual Global Youth Service Day and is a collaboration of BBYO and Repair the World. J-Serve is generously underwritten by the Charles and Lynn Schusterman Family Foundation and is supported by partner agencies Foundation for Jewish Camp, JCCA, Jewish Federations, Jewish Student Union, Jewish Teen Funders Network, NCSY, NFTY, Rock the Vote, USY and Young Judaea.
"The growth that J-Serve has experienced over the past 11 years is a testament to the power and passion of the next generation," said Lynn Schusterman, Founder and Co-Chair of the Charles and Lynn Schusterman Family Foundation. "I am incredibly inspired by the tens of thousands of Jewish teens from countries around the world who are finding ways to come together to give back and make a meaningful difference in the lives of others."
To apply for the 2016 J-Serve Teen Task Force, please contact Robby Etzkin at firstname.lastname@example.org. The application will be ready during the first week of August. J-Serve in 2016 will occur on Sunday, April 17, 2016.
J‑Serve 2015 is the International Day of Jewish Youth Service and is a part of Youth Service America's Global Youth Service Day. J-Serve 2015 is endorsed throughout the world by BBYO, Bureau of Jewish Education of New York, Foundation for Jewish Camp, JCCA, Jewish Federations, Jewish Student Union, Jewish Teen Funders Network, NCSY, NFTY, Rock the Vote, USY, and Young Judaea. J-Serve 2015 is in partnership with Repair The World and Youth Service America and is generously underwritten by the Charles and Lynn Schusterman Family Foundation.