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 supports J-Serve’s efforts through trainings for youth group program staff throughout the country.
This year’s official J-Serve date is April 2 (though some communities pick a service date a few weeks before or after). We checked in with Jed Golman, an 18-year old senior from Dallas, Texas to find out how he celebrated J-Serve. Check out what he had to say.
What is your background with service and volunteering?
When I first came to my school in kindergarten, they made it very clear to us that community service would be a large part of our life. Every year, our service project changed. One year we worked with Meals on Wheels. Other years we did food drives and tutored students from underprivileged schools. My family also instilled in me the importance of helping out those less fortunate than myself. They allowed me to experience service first hand and develop a deep appreciation for it.
How did you get involved with J-Serve? What drew you to it?
When I joined BBYO, my opportunities to serve were amplified. When I saw the chance to do community service alongside some of my best friends, I jumped right on it. As a freshman, I didn’t fully understand the full scope of J-Serve and how incredible it is that on one weekend, hundreds of communities from across the globe participate in service projects at the same time.
What sort of projects will your J-Serve community be working on? What sort of impact do you hope they’ll have on the community?
Since we have a very large community in Dallas, we will offer a little more than 10 projects in partnership with many other organizations. My personal favorite project taking place is a fundraiser called Points For Peace. It is a 3-on-3 basketball tournament held annually and all of the proceeds go towards Students Against Terrorism. Hopefully after this weekend, our participating teens will feel part of something bigger. I am also excited to show the Dallas community that Jewish teens are here to help.
What are you most excited about?
I am most excited about watching the aggregate impact that we are able to create in just one weekend. I love watching social media and other outlets blow up as teens enjoy the community service they do. That is one of my favorite parts about J-Serve; the teens involved truly enjoy the work they are doing, and it leads them to do more service at other times.
Why is doing service in a specifically Jewish context meaningful to you personally?
To me, Judaism is everything. Everyday when I wake up, I place a kippah on my head and shift my Star of David pendant off of the clasp of the necklace, affirming not only to myself, but to everyone who I interact with that I am a proud Jew. In today’s world, with antisemitism on the rise, our actions as the Jewish people are being criticized more heavily. More than ever, it is important that we show our true values of tzedakah and tikkun olam because the world needs to see it. Doing service in a specifically Jewish context is imperative because it will maintain the good name of the Jewish people that we have struggled so hard to keep up.
Keep up with J-Serve by tracking #JServe2017 on Twitter and on their Facebook page.