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Four BBYO Alumni Selected as JDC Jewish Service Corp Fellows

September 22, 2010

Inaugural Program Strives to Bring Jewish Youth around the World Closer Together

The American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (JDC) and BBYO, Inc., the world’s leading pluralistic Jewish teen movement, announce the selection of four inaugural fellows to serve in a new overseas service initiative for BBYO alumni, the JDC-BBYO Global Service Fellowship. This fall Ben Becker, Laura Himmelstein, Ariana Neustein and Paulina Zaharieva will join the JDC’s Jewish Service Corps for one year to help communities with their most pressing welfare, Jewish renewal and humanitarian needs while developing teen programming and connections to Jewish life through BBYO’s innovative leadership programming and international network. The JDC-BBYO Global Service Fellowship is receiving initial support from the Charles and Lynn Schusterman Family Foundation.

Becker, Himmelstein, Neustein and Zaharieva will serve as BBYO experts in the Jewish communities of Turkey; Israel, Argentina, and Serbia. They will work to assess the needs of the Jewish teen community in their respective countries, build relationships, and expose teens to BBYO and global Jewish teen programming. Additionally, the fellows will facilitate connections between North American Jewish teens and their peers overseas through BBYO initiatives such as J-Serve, the National Day of Jewish Youth Service; Stand UP!, a local service campaign to help those in need; The Global Ambassadors Network, tasking North American teens with creating relationships in specific Jewish Service Corp locations; Summer Experiences with more than two dozen options focused on leadership development, service and advocacy and world travel; International Convention, an annual gathering with more than 700 teen leaders; and global Shabbats celebrated simultaneously around the world.

“The teen leadership of BBYO has identified the development of a global network of Jewish teens working together on common goals as a key priority for the organization moving forward,” said Matthew Grossman, BBYO’s executive director. “BBYO is excited to employ our resources including staff, programming and a network of 30,000 teens to support and interact with these Jewish communities around the world, and we are grateful to have talented partners in the JDC to bring this dream to reality.”

Selected JDC-BBYO Global Service Fellows for this inaugural year include:

  • Ben Becker of Toledo, Ohio -- A graduate of Ohio State University with a double major in International Relations & Diplomacy and Middle East Studies, Ben will serve as a JSC Fellow in Turkey. Ben’s international, regional and local leadership experiences with BBYO, particularly as an international vice-president, as well as his involvement in the Jewish community of Ohio and participation in Ambassadors for Israel has primed him to continue building up the Jewish teen experience in his placement community.
  • Laura Himmelstein of Roswell, Georgia -- A graduate of the University of Michigan with a major in Business Administration, Laura will be a JSC Fellow in Jerusalem, Israel. Her fellowship is a continuation of her active role in Jewish communal life and interest in international travel and work. Laura has had leadership roles within BBYO and while in college visited Europe, Israel, and Cuba on a humanitarian mission. During her fellowship Laura will work with JDC’s AMEN program, focusing on developing teen volunteer groups and also AMEN’s relationship with Tzameret, BBYO’s partner youth movement in Israel.
  • Ariana Neustein of San Diego, California -- A graduate of Lynn University in Boca Raton, Florida with a major in International Relations, Ariana will serve as a JSC Fellow in Argentina. She credits her experiences with BBYO in high school as the first step towards a lifetime of advocacy and leadership. Ariana has spent the last year in Buenos Aires studying Spanish and serving with various organizations. She will work with youth and teens through the JCC and local Hillel, while she serves a community of approximately 10,000 Jews.
  • Paulina Zaharieva of Sofia, Bulgaria -- A graduate of Sofia University and the University of Nice Sophia Antipolis France with a Masters in Media Communication and Culture, Paulina will serve as a JSC Fellow in Serbia where she will apply her own experiences from BBYO in Bulgaria. In Bulgaria, Polly was a BBYO president and was involved in many international and local events.

As JSC Fellows Becker, Himmelstein, Neustein and Zaharieva will act as catalysts for change, creating innovative programs that respond to pressing Jewish and humanitarian challenges around the world while exploring Jewish values underlying their service. Their work with Jewish youth and teens in their communities will be an extension of BBYO’s mission to offer more Jewish teens more meaningful Jewish experiences. They will be joining a larger network of JDC Jewish Service Corp Fellows placed around the world in India, Ukraine, Russia, Poland, Estonia, Germany, Argentina, Israel, and Rwanda.

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