Hundreds of Jewish teens from Monmouth and Middlesex counties joined a global teen service initiative to make the world a better place.
The Middlesex County Fire Academy in Sayreville sponsored J-Serve on April 22. In addition to performing various community service projects, teen participants learned, through live fire and rescue demonstrations, how public safety professionals carry out their commitment to serving the community in times of danger, crisis or need.
“It is my responsibility as a member of the Jewish community to educate the next generation,” Jake Robbins of Manalapan said in a statement provided by the Jewish Federation in the Heart of New Jersey. “That is what I do to serve my community and that’s what J-Serve does for the Jewish people as well.”
“Being on the teen committee for J-Serve was a great experience. It gave me the opportunity to reach out and help my community in a way I had never done before,” Highland Park resident Ava Schwartz said in the statement. “After working hard to plan the event, it was rewarding to see other teens help those in need. I am so glad to be a part of this meaningful project.”
Her twin sister Emily added, “Working on the teen committee for J-Serve 2018 was very inspiring to me as a Jewish teen. I learned a lot about planning and communication as well as why it is important to give back to the community, and how this can be done in such a fun and impactful way. I learned a lot from J-Serve and I hope that the day inspired all of the Jewish teens who attended to continue service for their community and gain an understanding of why this is so important.”
Participants earned community service credits for engaging in hands-on projects such as helping at a food pantry, starting a garden for preschool children, making teddy bears with children with special needs, decorating mezuzahs and candlesticks for Houston families who lost their homes in Hurricane Harvey, making video greetings for lone IDF soldiers in Israel, visiting Holocaust survivors, learning how to advocate for Israel, learning basic emergency response with Hatzalah EMS and socializing with seniors at an assisted living home.
“J-Serve encourages teens to consider the causes they care about and participate in efforts to help those who are less fortunate,” Susan Antman, the Jewish Federation’s executive vice president, said in the statement. “The federation is proud to inspire young people to act on their values of caring. It’s thrilling to witness them discovering that their contributions matter.”