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2 Teens Give Back to Community at MJCCA

Read this story in the The Atlanta Jewish Times

On Sunday, Sept. 7, teens from Temple Sholom’s Judah BBYO chapter, along with the Greenwich synagogue’s teen choir and JTeen of Westchester, gathered in New Rochelle to volunteer for Habitat for Humanity of Westchester.

For Brittany (age 17) and Alyssa Bruck (age 15), volunteering and giving their time to charitable organizations came easy; it’s just what they always felt they were meant to do. From coordinating a Hunger Summit in Michigan through BBYO, to working with the Marcus Jewish Community Center of Atlanta’s J-Serve (the annual International day of Jewish youth service run by teens, for teens), the Bruck sisters have always made it a priority to take on leadership roles advocating for social service causes, and to give back to their community.

Brittany Bruck, is a senior at Northview High School has been volunteering for years. She now serves as the International VP of social action, community service, and Jewish heritage for BBYO. As a freshman, Bruck joined the planning committee of the MJCCA’s J-Serve, helping to recruit hundreds of teens to participate in the community wide day of service. Since then, Brittany has been particularly dedicated to hunger relief agencies, through BBYO, and is now working with the MJCCA’s Teen JAM (a task force that focuses on social activism through Jewish values). The 2014-2015 Teen JAM program kicks off at the MJCCA on October 2.

Alyssa Bruck, a sophomore at Northview High School, has also volunteered for years working with organizations like Creating Connected Communities which hosts Amy’s Holiday Party, an annual holiday celebration for over 750 underprivileged children and their families in Atlanta as well as other programs around the city. Alyssa was also on the planning committee of the Marcus JCC of Atlanta’s J-Serve as a freshman through the Teen JAM program, and plans to continue being a part of this committee through high school.

Laura Ross, MJCCA’s Teen Department Director, said, “One of the strongest Jewish values is ‘Tikkun Olam,’ or ‘Repair the World.’ These girls truly embody this quality. They make such a difference in their community – both by their own work, and by mobilizing and inspiring teens to make their world a better place.”

One initiative that is particularly close to the Bruck sisters’ hearts is an orphanage that their aunt, Lisa Rueff, started in Haiti in 2012, called The Jacmel Children’s Center. Through BBYO, Brittany and Alyssa have coordinated efforts including designing coloring books, decorating flip flops, and making friendship bracelets, and then sending it all to the children at the Jacmel Children’s Center.

Brittany explains, “My community has raised me to understand that I am responsible for ensuring the prosperity of my own community and its people. Hands-on service projects, social action programming, and advocating for underrated causes are priorities of mine to undertake with other teens to spread this message.”

Alyssa says, “Volunteering for me is not just about helping those in need, but also being able to see the impact I can make on my community, knowing that I can leave the world better than I found it.”

The Teen JAM task force members will work throughout the year, recruiting hundreds of teen volunteers to work with community organizations planning and creating community service projects for J-Serve. Teen JAM will meet Thursdays, October 2, 2014 – April 23, 2015, from 7:00 – 8:30 pm, at the MJCCA’s Orkin Teen House. Teen JAM applications are due Friday, Sept. 19.

For more information about Teen JAM or to apply visit atlantajcc.org/teens, or email teens@atlantajcc.org.

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