Teens in Heart of NJ Participate in J-SERVE

Jewish teens and tweens from Monmouth and Middlesex counties came together for the global teen service initiative, J-SERVE, on April 7. The goal of the Jewish Federation event, hosted at the Middlesex County Fire Academy, was to make a difference through hands-on projects fulfilling the Jewish values of caring, justice, and repairing the world.
 
“J-SERVE encourages teens in 6th-12th grades to participate in local causes, while also educating them about community needs,” said Susan Antman, Federation Executive President. “This international day of service teaches teens their contributions matter, they can inspire others to lead by example, and coming together makes a meaningful change in the world.”
 
Participants took part in an array of service projects, which included:
  • Making and packaging 24 fun packages for Israeli children with cancer who come to the US for treatments, with games, stickers, toys, and a card
  • Painting 80 flower pots and planting flowers in them for Holocaust survivors participating in Café Europa, a monthly program for local survivors 
  • Decorating 70 matzah and challah covers that will be donated to kosher Meals on Wheels recipients
  • Fashioning 114 cat toys for a local animal shelter
  • Burying sacred books
  • Creating blankets for children in need to be donated to Project Linus
  • Hearing stories from Holocaust survivors
  • Socializing with seniors in a Jewish assisted living home, singing songs, doing arts and crafts, and giving the women manicures. 
 
Keynote speaker Emily Char, high school junior from Woodcliff Lake, spoke to teens about Project Hearts to Homes, a nonprofit started by her and her sister, providing vital supplies to low-income families such as diapers, household supplies, and more. She has raised over $45,000 to date. 
 
She was followed by Hannah Finkelshteyn, a high school junior from East Brunswick and state organizer for Youth v Gov, a teen group working in support of the lawsuit Juliana v US, persuading the government to implement a national climate recovery plan. 
 
The day began with a demonstration from the Middlesex County Fire Academy, showing the teens how they extract accident victims from cars using jaws of life and other mechanisms.
 
J-SERVE is the International Day of Jewish Youth Service, with tens of thousands of teens around the world each year performing acts of loving kindness, justice and charitable giving. Local Jewish youth group, BBYO, and Jewish Federation in the Heart of New Jersey were the lead sponsors of the event, and were supported by additional Jewish youth groups NCSY, USY, NFTY, CTEEN, and Central Jersey Friendship Circle, as well as the global, non-sectarian Good Deeds Day. 
 
With a bright future in mind for all Jews, the Federation cares for the vulnerable, connects people to each other and to communal resources and experiences, responds to crises, and cultivates collective responsibility for tikkun olam (repairing the world). 

See photos from this amazing day here.

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