Welcome to our annual series of interviews featuring a handful of the nearly 10,000 inspiring teens who are involved with J-Serve – the International Day of Jewish Youth Service coming up on April 28, 2013. These teens are going above and beyond to make their communities great, and bring together their love of service and their Jewish identities through J-Serve. This week: Seth Betman, a high school freshman from West Bloomfield, Michigan, shares his story.
What’s your background with service and volunteering?
I’ve loved community service ever since I was a kid. If a project comes up and I’m not busy, I’ll almost definitely show up and participate. My passion for volunteering probably stems from my mom, who loves helping other people. I learned from her that service is a given, and a central part of who we are as a family. I’m currently in BBYO, where I’m the community service shaliach. That means I work to make my chapter aware of community service opportunities.
How did you get involved with J-Serve?
I actually found out through my mom, who suggested my brother and I attend. I started going four years ago when I was 10, and have been a part of it ever since. Over the years, we have participated in all different kinds of projects. Last year, for example, we volunteered at a soup kitchen and community empowerment organization called the Baldwin Center in Pontiac, Michigan. Our group packed food, assisted in the soup kitchen and helped with whatever work was needed.
J-Serve is coming up this year on April 28. How are you involved?
I’m on the teen committee. We take a survey of what students want for projects, and help make it happen. This year we’re working with BBYO Michigan’s rebuilding Detroit initiative, which means we’ll head to the city for a day of service. We’ll most likely paint murals and help with construction.
Do you see a connection between your service work and your Jewish identity?
I definitely tie them together. All of the service and volunteering activities I am a part of are done within a Jewish context. I always appreciate when our J-Serve projects include some kind of Jewish learning about service. It makes it even more meaningful to connect to something bigger.