Each year, J-Serve: The International Day of Jewish Youth Service mobilizes more than ten thousand Jewish teens worldwide around meaningful service programs. This year, we checked in with Michelle Biesman, a 16-year old junior at Harpeth Hall School in Nashville, Tennessee to find out how she celebrated J-Serve. Check out what she had to say.
What did your J-Serve group do this year?
For J-Serve 2015 we had a few different projects going on, all on the JCC campus. These included working on and re-making trails that are used by Camp Davis, the JCC camp, Akiva School, the kindergarten-6th grade community day school, making artwork and partnering with the Frist in Nashville, TN, an art museum, and helped make signs for Camp Davis. For Akiva, a very small school, the teens helped garden and refurbish it as well as hang up artwork and complete other tasks for which Akiva needed help. For the trails, most of the guys went out in the mud (it had rained the whole weekend), to help move trees, re-do the trails, and pick up trash and make the site more pleasant and accessible.
How were you involved in the planning and running of the day?
I helped brainstorm projects that we could do, especially staying on the JCC campus and refurbishing Akiva. During the day I helped check everyone in and helped ensure things were going according to plan.
What was the biggest challenge?
I think the biggest challenge was promoting J-Serve and getting people to sign up. With that said, we had great attendance and I think people really enjoyed it!
What was the most inspiring part for you this year?
I think the most inspiring part of J-Serve was seeing Jewish kids in Nashville from 6th-12th grade coming together to better our local Jewish community. This year we focused on betting the Nashville Jewish community rather than just the Nashville community. I think it means more for someone to help people from their same background, in this case Jews helping other Jewish people. Nashville has a small, growing Jewish community and with recent acts of antisemitism in Nashville and across America, I found it special to see so many Jewish teens coming together to better our community.