This April an estimated 10,000 teens participated in J-Serve, the National Day of Jewish youth service. This year marks the seventh year in which Jewish youth from across North America, Europe and Israel have participated in J- Serve, in an effort to encourage community building and connections across religious and societal lines.
J Serve 2011 is the Jewish service component of the annual Global Youth Service Day of Youth Service America and is a collaboration of The PANIM Institute of BBYO and Repair the World. It is supported nationally by partner agencies BBYO, Bureau of Jewish Education of New York, Foundation for Jewish Camp, JCCA, Jewish Federations, Jewish Student Unions, Jewish Teen Funders Network, NCSY, NFTY, Rock the Vote, USY, and Young Judea, and generous support from the Charles and Lynn Schusterman Family Foundation.
“J-Serve is weaving a tapestry of stories into a moving narrative: thousands of teens united in answering the call to greatness by volunteering to repair their communities and our world. All of us who share a devotion and commitment to the Jewish future should be moved and inspired,” says Lynn Schusterman, chair of the Charles and Lynn Schusterman Family Foundation.
J-Serve provides teens with the opportunity to fulfill the Jewish values of gemilut chasidim, acts of loving kindness, tzedakah, just and charitable giving, and tikkum olam, the responsibility to repair the world. Across the globe, teens will join each other to make their community and the world a better place.
Official data from J-Serve 2011 will be available on May 20, 2011. J-Serve 2012 will be April 22, 2012.
Learn more about J-Serve from a top teen leader, Ross Seidman, BBYO’s international J-Serve Committee teen director and member of Youth Service America’s Board of Director.
A Teen Reflection on Growing Leadership Through Service
Each year, Jewish teens from across North America participate in J-Serve, the National Day of Jewish Youth Service. My involvement with J-Serve began on the local level in Baltimore. When I was a freshman and sophomore I viewed J-Serve as just another day of community service and didn’t really feel the need to participate as I was involved elsewhere. Last year, my BBYO program director asked me to become involved in planning and leading one of the projects Baltimore was organizing for J-Serve 2010. Through helping conceptualize, plan, and implement J-Serve 2010 in Baltimore I gained a broader view of what J-Serve is and what it means to the participants and the community at large.
After such a positive experience with J-Serve 2010 I decided that I wanted to help bring this model of youth empowerment and community impact to an International level. After being selected to serve on YSA’s National Youth Council I began working with staff on J-Serve 2011 on the international level. Through leading a committee of nine other teens from around North America who are so passionate about the impact of J-Serve, I have seen why it is so successful internationally. In 2010 J-Serve engaged over 8,000 teens in more than 50 communities. In 2011 the goal is to engage over 10,000 teens in more than 75 communities.
J-Serve is a completely youth-led initiative with staff support and guidance throughout the process. This allows those teens planning J-Serve around the world to gain valuable leadership experience and a larger perspective on the impact that J-Serve can have on a community, peers and themselves. From working on our initiative in Baltimore I, along with the other teens coordinators, was able to choose the issues we felt most pressing and then contact the different organizations to partner with. This ownership of a project that engaged close to 200 teens in Baltimore was truly empowering and a testament to what we as Jewish youth can accomplish when motivated and given the opportunity.
Each year, J-Serve shows me, and all teens who participate, that service-learning is fun and meaningful, as well as that we can have a concrete impact in our communities when we unite. Despite J-Serve being one day, it shows the potential for Jewish teens to become active Jewish leaders, and issues to become mitigated through positive impact.
Ross Seidman is a senior at McDonogh School in Owings Mills, Maryland. He credits the cultivation of his leadership and service-learning experiences with his involvement in BBYO, the nation’s leading pluralistic Jewish teen organization. Ross serves as BBYO’s Baltimore Council President and heads BBYO’s international J-Serve Committee as well as serving on Youth Service America’s Board of Directors and the National Youth Council.
J-Serve is the Jewish Community’s day of Jewish youth service that occurs on Global Youth Service Day. Teens participate as individuals or as part of their organization’s effort; J-Serve is endorsed internationally by BBYO, Bureau of Jewish Education of New York, Foundation for Jewish Camp, JCCA, Jewish Federations, Jewish Student Unions, Jewish Teen Funders Network, NCSY, NFTY, PANIM the institute for Jewish Leadership and Values of BBYO, USY, and Young Judea. J-Serve is held in partnership with REPAIR THE WORLD and ROCK THE VOTE and is generously underwritten by the Charles and Lynn Schusterman Family Foundation. J-Serve 2012 will be April 22, 2012.