Each year, J-Serve: The International Day of Jewish Youth Service mobilizes more than ten thousand Jewish teens worldwide around meaningful service programs. Repair the World is a proud partner of J-Serve (along with BBYO, Good Deeds Day, and Youth Service America, among others) and supports global planning efforts through a series of web-based trainings and other educational resources for Jewish youth professionals and teen leaders across the country and around the world.
J-Serve 2019 marks the 15th anniversary of this powerful global initiative and is poised to be the biggest and best year yet, engaging more than 15,000 teens in meaningful service, advocacy, philanthropy and other social impact experiences throughout the spring. This year’s official J-Serve date is Sunday, April 7 (though some communities pick an alternative project date a few weeks before or after to maximize participation).
We checked in with Emma Herman from Washington D.C., currently serving as BBYO’s Female Teen Vice President of Jewish Enrichment, to find out how she’s planning to take part in #JSERVE2019. Check out what she had to say!
How did you get involved with J-Serve? What’s your background with service/volunteering, and how did that experience draw you to J-Serve?
What sort of project(s) will your J-Serve community be working on?
As a native Washingtonian, I feel fortunate to be part of an area with such a unique platform from which to advocate and serve. My BBYO community of ‘DC Council’ takes full advantage of our hometown, planning many small/large-scale projects to engage hundreds of local teens through J-Serve. From partnering with national organizations like the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) to assembling care packages for newly settled refugees in/around DC, we’ll truly be leaving no stone left unturned. As we gear up for what will be the biggest and best J-Serve season to date, I’m so excited to help lead my community’s efforts to make an impact, and I’m proud to do my part as we rally together alongside Jewish teens everywhere to enact real change.
What has been the most fun part of working on your project so far?
In my role as BBYO’s International Sh’licha (the Female Teen VP of Jewish Enrichment), I work closely with communities around the world to help bring their J-Serve vision to life. So far, my favorite part of this process has been initial conversations with my counterparts, discovering what ignites their fire for driving change. In the many calls/emails that have followed, I continue to be inspired by their dedication to creating fun, interesting, and meaningful opportunities to engage their peers through service, advocacy, and other forms of social change supporting causes about which they are so passionate. As we approach J-Serve 2019, I look forward to doing everything I can to support the strengthening of all aspects of these amazing events every step of the way!
What’s been the most inspiring part of working with J-Serve as a leader this year?
What do you think makes J-Serve successful in its ability to excite Jewish teens around the world about service? What makes it special?
The Talmud states, “We, the youth, are the builders.” In my opinion, J-Serve is the perfect embodiment of this notion in its ability to excite Jewish teens to take the reins, devoting time and energy into something that truly matters together with their peers around the world. I’m proud to be part of a generation that refuses to sit back, instead constantly seeking opportunities to improve our world through initiatives like J-Serve. Additionally, what makes J-Serve so special is the fact that while one teen group may only interact with one service project, across the globe there are more groups of Jewish teens doing good work, too. As such, J-Serve provides an incredible platform from which teens are empowered to experience the magnitude of our global Jewish community on a local level.
Why is doing service specifically in a Jewish context meaningful to you personally? What’s uniquely Jewish about doing good and/or giving back?