April 08, 2019
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE April 08, 2019
MEDIA CONTACT Debbie Shemony, 202.857.6691; mailto: [email protected]
WASHINGTON, DC— A record-breaking 15,000+ teens in more than 150 communities across 25+ countries participated in a special day of community service and social change projects as part of the fifteenth anniversary of J‑Serve, the International Day of Jewish Teen Service, anchored on the official date this past Sunday, April 7, 2017. With events and projects taking place as early as March and running through May, a record-setting number of participants are taking part in J-Serve initiatives this spring, building on a history of continued growth each year.
For the first time ever, J-Serve 2019 featured a vast array of diverse social impact projects reaching far beyond traditional hands-on service, as teen coordinators were encouraged to plan their own day of impactful programming designed to prioritize what they believe to be the most interesting and engaging approach through which to address their community’s social needs. In addition to time-honored direct service experiences, these programs included advocacy training, philanthropic events, community organizing rallies, first responder trainings, charity runs, dance marathon fundraisers, lobbyist workshops, and more.
"J-Serve is a wonderful opportunity for teens to do something that is important to them and engage with ideas and causes they care about,” said Lynn Schusterman, Founder and Chair Emerita of the Charles and Lynn Schusterman Family Foundation. “The Jewish future is bright when the next generation is ready to step up and be the change they wish to see in the world.”
This marks the fifteenth year that Jewish teens are turning out in force for J‑Serve to spread awareness for important causes and encourage community building and connections across religious and societal lines. J-Serve offers middle and high school students a unique opportunity to collaborate through service as a unified global network committed to fulfilling the values of gemilut chasidim, acts of loving kindness, tzedakah, just and charitable giving, and tikkun olam, the responsibility to repair the world.
Some highlights of this year’s J-Serve initiatives include:
- A “Run for Responders” event in Westchester County, New York, aimed at raising awareness and funds for volunteer fire departments in Westchester and Magen David Adom in Israel. With close to 200 attendees, the day featured informative workshops with first responders for teen and activities for children of all ages.
- An inclusion themed event in Orlando, Florida, with four different programs on topics including LGBTQ+, mental health, physical disabilities, and hate crimes towards minority groups, designed to support groups that face exclusion.
- An afternoon of nine different community service and improvement projects in Toronto, Canada, where over 400 teens united to focus on causes such as poverty, hunger, homelessness, genocide, human rights, health, and inclusion.
- A host of other diverse programs around the world involving thousands of Jewish teens in Austria, Bulgaria, Hungary, Israel, Kazakhstan, Mexico, Russia, and Ukraine, among other countries, participating in community service and social action projects, some for the first time.
BBYO’s International Teen Vice Presidents of Jewish Enrichment, Emma Herman (Northern Region East) and Liam McLean (Wisconsin Region), stewarded BBYO’s participation in J-Serve this year. “As a generation of thoughtful and driven Jewish teens, we seek an outlet to make our mark on the world and each spring, J-Serve provides us just this – an opportunity to create global change on a local level,” remarked Herman. “Stewarding J-Serve for BBYO has been a remarkable experience and a reminder of the power of young people. Across the globe, Jewish teens are embracing and acting upon the values we share, and so many worthy causes are being supported through these powerful initiatives,” said McLean.
J‑Serve is the Jewish service component of Youth Service America’s annual Global Youth Service Day and is a collaboration between BBYO and Repair the World, in partnership with Good Deeds Day. 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.
BBYO is the leading pluralistic Jewish teen movement aspiring to involve more Jewish teens in more meaningful Jewish experiences. For more than 90 years, BBYO‘s leadership programs the Aleph Zadik Aleph (AZA, high school fraternity) and the B’nai B’rith Girls (BBG, high school sorority) have been providing exceptional leadership programs and identity enrichment experiences, shaping the confidence and character of more than 400,000 alumni who are among the most prominent figures in business, politics, academia, the arts, and Jewish communal life. Now, BBYO’s network of Jewish teens, alumni, parents, volunteers, and philanthropists serves as the Jewish community’s most valuable platform for delivering to the post Bar/Bat Mitzvah audience fun, meaningful, and affordable experiences. With year-round activities in hundreds of local communities and inspiring world-wide travel experiences, BBYO’s broad program menu enables teens to explore areas of leadership, service, civic engagement, Israel education, and Jewish values.
Please note that BBYO should not be referred to as the B’nai B’rith Youth Organization, but rather as “BBYO.”
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