Archive for : J-Serve

J-Serve 2018: Jack Rosenblum

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 and supports global planning efforts through a series of web-based trainings for Jewish youth professionals across the country and around the world.

This year’s official J-Serve date is Sunday, April 15 (though some communities pick an alternative service date a few weeks before or after to maximize participation). We checked in with Jack Rosenblum, a high school senior from Virginia Beach, VA, currently serving as BBYO’s Male Teen Vice President of Jewish Enrichment, to find out how he’s planning to take part in #jserve2018. Check out what he 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?
In my community, we usually tend to focus on service projects geared either towards working with the elderly communities in our area or building projects to help the environment. With my chapter, we’ve visited synagogues and old age homes and had incredible experiences spending time with the senior community of our city. It’s a really meaningful moment to be able to make a senior citizen laugh and know what you did made their day better, all while learning from them too about who they are and where they come from. This is something my chapter in particular has had great success doing in the past and will continue to work towards in the future – through J-Serve this spring and beyond. As a city we also love to rally behind environmentalism, especially towards the Chesapeake Bay, as we live directly on it. It’s very common for teens in our area both with our schools and with our chapters to create projects such as cleaning the bay or the beach or building oyster reefs. We have a very strong connection to the bay and to her well-being, which makes these programs very personal and meaningful to us.

What has been the most fun part of working on J-Serve so far?
The most fun part of this entire project has been working with more and more of my fellow teens in creating their own individual projects in communities around the world. It’s an amazing feeling to hear about all the incredible ideas and visions they have for engaging Jewish teens in service locally. It’s absolutely inspiring. J-Serve offers a great opportunity for Jewish teens to express how much they care about certain issues, providing them with the chance to engage 10, 50, 100, sometimes even 500 teens all together in an act of service. It’s an incredible feeling to know what you’re doing has such a large impact internationally and that all around the world people are benefiting from our mission. The fun part is getting to help my peers be creative in what they decide to do for J-Serve, and working together to elevate their service experience by engaging more teens in more meaningful service. Many of my fellow teens have initial ideas or thoughts about what they want to do, but after we get the chance to work together and bounce ideas off each other, we end up with these incredibly powerful and enriching programs. Although I do not get to actively participate everywhere, knowing that teens around the world are all doing such great work and being engaged is breathtaking.

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?
Teens don’t realize when they’re first invited to a J-Serve project how much it will impact their lives. However, once they get there and actively participate in the incredible acts of service with teens from across their community, they understand one of our oldest Jewish values: tikkun olam (to repair the world). They connect to thousands of years of Jews doing what makes the world a better place. It also gives them an opportunity to be involved in a project that matters to them, supporting causes they care about. Whether it be saving the environment, helping refugees, feeding the homeless or any other amazing act, teens are doing projects which are meaningful to them and they can see the impact right in front of their eyes. It’s not adults leading them and telling them what they have to do, but rather it’s a group of teens deciding for themselves how they want to make a difference. J-Serve is important because it offers a platform for Jewish teens to feel inspired, empowered, and excited to do more; especially when they realize that all across the world other Jewish teens are doing the exact same thing: making the world a better place. It’s a very powerful feeling.

Why is doing service specifically in a Jewish context meaningful to you personally? What’s uniquely Jewish about doing good and/or giving back?

Keep up with J-Serve at jserve.org, by tracking #JServe2018 on Twitter and Instagram, and via their Facebook page. For more information on how to get involved, contact Rae Williams

J-Serve 2018: Noga Hurwitz

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 and supports global planning efforts through a series of web-based trainings for Jewish youth professionals across the country and around the world.

This year’s official J-Serve date is Sunday, April 15 (though some communities pick an alternative service date a few weeks before or after to maximize participation). We checked in with Noga Hurwitz, a high school senior from the San Francisco Bay Area, CA, currently serving as BBYO’s Female Teen Vice President of Jewish Enrichment, to find out how she’s planning to take part in #jserve2018. 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?
In the Bay Area, teens from BBYO and NFTY have partnered in creating a hands-on day of service with a menu of volunteer opportunities to cater to different teens interests. Throughout the day, participants will engage in direct service projects with one of eight organizations — with options range from gardening at a local social justice garden to creating advocacy artwork with Habitat for Humanity to creating blankets for kids in need through Project Linus. The event will conclude with meaningful community building programming centered around Jewish values. I had the privilege of spearheading J-Serve in the Bay Area last year, and it has been incredibly exciting to see how this year’s leadership team has continued to build out the event in a way that provides teens with diverse interests and skill sets an opportunity to participate in service and better our community.

What has been the most fun part of working on your project so far?
One of my favorite things to emerge from the J-Serve planning process are the conversations that teens around the world are having with each other about their specific community needs. There is significant forethought that goes into planning a community-wide J-Serve experience, and seeing 15, 16 and 17 year old leaders welcome the challenge of narrowing down the injustice that they will work to address is really cool and inspiring. And that’s just the first part! Being part of these conversations as they evolve into full-fledged projects has also been incredibly rewarding, and I look forward to continuing to support our diversity of J-Serve projects taking place around the world throughout the coming weeks.

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?
Unlike other community service events, J-Serve’s “global” aspect makes it feel like teens have the power to better the entire world. It is empowering to know that as I work on a service project in my local community, teens everywhere are donating their time, efforts, and energy to bettering their communities, as well. Each year, participating in J-Serve reminds me that I am a part of an entire generation of young people who are passionate about creating real and tangible change both locally and globally. The value of tikkun olam, repairing the world, is so central to Jewish tradition, and to see teens champion it through meaningful service programming is what fuels my passion for my own Jewish identity. It is remarkable to see how teens are shaping our current cultural and political landscape around the world, and J-Serve offers a concrete example of how our young leaders are making a real, tangible difference.

Why is doing service specifically in a Jewish context meaningful to you personally? What’s uniquely Jewish about doing good and/or giving back?

Keep up with J-Serve at jserve.org, by tracking #JServe2018 on Twitter and Instagram, and via their Facebook page. For more information on how to get involved, contact Rae Williams