Every year, J-Serve: The International Day of Jewish Youth Service brings together nearly 10,000 teens for a day of learning and meaningful community service. Teens from around the globe put in countless hours of planning and preparation to pull off the event in communities near and far. 2013’s J-Serve was no exception – to celebrate, we’ve gathered a few highlights, reflections and testimonials from a few of the teens and organizers that made the day happen.

Louis Lasko
Hartford, Connecticut
Project: Out of the Darkness Walk to raise money and awareness for suicide prevention

“The most rewarding part of J-Serve was seeing the overwhelming support from Westhill High School students and faculty, and seeing the Jewish Teen community joined by the larger community to support this cause.”

Kevin Falik
Memphis, Tennessee
Project: Extreme Makeover: J-Serve Edition. The teens worked with teachers, students and parents from a struggling middle school to help them create a school they could feel proud of. They helped clean lockers, decorate bulletin boards, plant a vegetable garden, and pack books to send back to the school district.

“By doing a project with not only 100 Jewish teens, but also the community members of the school, we were able to see members of the Memphis community come together for a common goal. Whether it be housing, hunger, or education issues, Memphis Jewish teens have to stand up and create a movement to better the community they are a part of.”

Jen Berman
Latvia, Europe
Project: The teens studied Jewish texts about tikkun olam, and painted flower pots with bulbs inside to be distributed during Veteran’s Day week.

“The most rewarding part of J-Serve this year was being able to reach teen leaders across the Baltics. They were especially surprised and taken by the different approach to programming – it’s not common for their programs to be service-oriented. I am committed to fostering a deeper sense of service-oriented culture, and I think J-Serve is an effective platform for that for teens across the world.”