JSERVE is a part of Federation's Jewish Teen Initiative, which aims to build community by engaging San Diego's teens. When you support Federation, you are supporting community-building projects like this that help engage Jewish teens.
By Darren Schwartz, Director, Jewish Teen Service Institute and Corps.
As Jews we are commanded to “not stand idly by” as we see those that are in need.
This concept was embraced as the core value of JSERVE 2016 - asking teens to “Take Action” for issues such as special needs, food security, seniors, at-risk youth and others.
Students from over 31 high schools and 31 middle schools participated in nine different opportunities around the county. In total 380 teens from all over San Diego County participated in JSERVE and took an important step toward Tikkun Olam (Transforming the World).
Three great partnerships of the day:
Congregation Beth El and JSERVE, as part of the Jewish Teen Initiative, worked together to include 168 teen participants, in San Diego for the USY regional retreat. These teens prepared and decorated breakfast cereal bowls for at-risk youth through Project Rescue Party. Later in the day, a different group of teens delivered those breakfast bowls and provided a day of fun and games for the kids connected to the organization.
Another great partnership for JSERVE was with Jewish Family Service. Two groups of teens were picked up by On the Go buses and taken either to the military food distribution or to the brand new JFS kitchen to prepare food for seniors served through the Foodmobile. From the moment they were picked up by On the Go, teens experienced what it feels like to be a “client” of Jewish Family Service. They also learned from Sofia Gardenswartz, sophomore at Francis Parker, how she “takes action” regularly to provide food security for various families, as president of Serving Spoons.
As part of the JSERVE middle school site, the JCC Inclusion program and Friendship Circle teamed up to provide an experiential opportunity for students to feel what it is like to have various special needs. They then discussed how to develop compassion for those that think or act in a different way. Later in the day, as part of a second site with Rady Children’s hospital, various individuals led the students with special needs in assembling gift baskets for cancer patients.
The program culminated in a rock concert by Shorashim – a teen rock band from Temple Solel. As the program ended, teens were asked to consider the day of service as the first step toward Tikkun Olam (transforming the world) and given cards on how to continue taking action.