Like most of 2020, J-SERVE was different than in years past, but the impact and purpose was not lost in our ever-changing environment.
Each year, J-SERVE provides teens (grades 6 through 12) with a unique opportunity to band together through service to fulfill the Jewish values of gemilut chasidim, acts of loving kindness, tzedakah, just and charitable giving, and tikkun olam, the responsibility to repair the world.
Teens earn community service hours for their day of service while meeting new friends and peers and providing support to those in need. This year, J-SERVE projects were led by one or more of an 8-person teen committee, who chose their projects based on the “good” that each does in our community; and each project showcases one or more Jewish values that highlighted to teen participants the importance of what they were doing.
This year, rather than coming together in person, teens met virtually via Zoom. The program kicked off with Sharon Jacob, a local Emergency Department Physician who shared her first-hand experiences with the coronavirus. She led a captivating conversation and described how, with all the “bad” that was happening in our community, the good still came out in people. You can read her opening remarks here.
Teens then broke out into group sessions, based on their chosen projects. Each group was led by a teen member of the J-SERVE committee and was facilitated by Jeiwsh Federation staff. The teens worked together on their individual tasks but came together with a cohesive purpose and a common sense of community betterment.
2020 Virtual J-SERVE Projects
- Messages to Frontline Workers & Unsung Hero
Value - Hakarat Hatov, gratitude and recognizing the good.
Teens wrote and sent messages of gratitude to frontline workers. They created and posted signs in their communities for their local unsung heroes unsung heroes – postal workers, delivery drivers, sanitation workers.
- The Create Kindness Project
Value - A verse in the psalms that says serve God with joy, the Torah also teaches us about the great mitzvah to be happy constantly.
In this session, teens channeled their artistic abilities and chose from three different options; painting kindness rocks, creating kindness chalk drawings or designing kindness tear-off message boards. Teens then put the pieces in their communities to spread a little joy at this trying time.
- PJ Library Song Show
Value - G’milut chasadim means personal acts of loving-kindness. There are some acts of g’milut chasadim that we can do alone, as an individual. We can do things for our family, our friends, or for people in our community. Teens worked with their peers to make props, rehearse, and sing a PJ Library song that will be shared on the PJ Library Facebook page to give parents a break and kids can watch at their leisure!
- Kindness Calls to Aging Adults
Value – The value of Kibud Zekaynim, honor the elders, follows the Jewish tradition of honoring and respecting senior citizens, kibud zekaynim, as a value that reminds us to learn from those who have come before us.
Participants of this session made check-in calls to Jewish Federation’s aging adult community. Many of the seniors live alone; and may feel isolated during times like these. J-SERVE teens called to say hello and see how they're doing.