Central Florida's Independent Jewish Voice

Articles written by Suzanne Kurtz Sloan


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  • With Oct. 7 on their minds, Jewish teens head to gathering of thousands with renewed sense of priorities

    Suzanne Kurtz Sloan|Feb 9, 2024

    When 18-year-old TJ Katz was elected last February to be international president of BBYO after four years of deep involvement with the Jewish youth organization, the New Jersey teen was exceedingly excited. Serving as the face of a movement that reaches over 70,000 teens in 62 countries, Katz told an interviewer, put him in a unique position "to tangibly impact the lives of thousands of people." After graduating high school, Katz deferred admission by a year to the University of Florida to...

  • Antisemitism summit in NY

    Suzanne Kurtz Sloan|Sep 29, 2023

    When actor and director David Schwimmer stood up last November to talk about his experience with hate and the importance of building alliances to combat racism and antisemitism, the “Friends” star emphasized the importance of speaking up. “One of the biggest problems is silence. As I’ve said, silence is complicity, and so I try to urge people to speak out,” Schwimmer said at the annual ADL summit on antisemitism and hate, called Never Is Now. “I think it’s my responsibility. I don’t do enou...

  • With Israel in turmoil, group of US rabbis visits with a mission: to listen and learn

    Suzanne Kurtz Sloan|Apr 14, 2023

    Over the last few weeks, while Israel has been roiled by demonstrations involving hundreds of thousands, and President Isaac Herzog has warned about the possibility of civil war, American Jews have been watching with grave concern. Even after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced a delay in the government plan to overhaul the judiciary that sparked the mass protests, tensions in Israel remained high. It was precisely at this fraught moment that UJA-Federation of New York decided to bring a group of rabbis from the New York area...

  • Teen heroes: Bailey Dinman coordinates community service day for 200 teens

    Suzanne Kurtz Sloan|Jul 11, 2014

    WASHINGTON (JTA) - Bailey Dinman was surprised when she learned that homelessness was a struggle for many in the affluent Washington, D.C., suburb where she lives. "I was shocked by the statistics," said Dinman, 16. "In ninth grade, through my Hebrew school, I started volunteering at a shelter very close to my home." According to the Montgomery County Coalition for the Homeless, on any given day in the Maryland county 1,250 people experience homelessness, including 325 children. Dinman sorted... Full story

  • Teen heroes: Joe Goldberg encourages Jewish teens to do community service  

    Suzanne Kurtz Sloan|Jun 27, 2014

    WASHINGTON (JTA) - Handing out sandwiches to the homeless in a Washington, D.C. park proved to be a seminal moment for Joe Goldberg. "It was a turning point and opened my eyes to what the world is like," Goldberg, 18, said of his 10th-grade confirmation trip two years ago to the nation's capital. The St. Louis native is currently serving as the international social action/tikkun olam vice president for United Synagogue Youth (USY), the Conservative youth group. Goldberg assumed his... Full story

  • Teen Heroes: Sam Goldberg and Joshua Levine's music helps feed Israel's hungry

    Suzanne Kurtz Sloan|Jun 13, 2014

    WASHINGTON (JTA)-With their bar mitzvahs soon approaching, Sam Goldberg and Joshua Levine, embarked on a melodic act of chesed. Over the winter, Goldberg and Levine, both 13 and seventh-graders at The Moriah School in Englewood, N.J., met with their music teacher and spent a collective 75 hours in a local studio to record an album they titled "Tikun Olam." The goal of the album, they said, was to raise money for Leket Israel, an organization that serves as Israel's national food bank and food... Full story

  • Teen Heroes: Elist transforms recyclables into food for the needy

    Suzanne Kurtz Sloan|May 16, 2014

    WASHINGTON (JTA)-As a seventh-grader at the Harvard-Westlake School in Los Angeles, Jordan Elist spent many hours fulfilling his community service requirement by volunteering at local food banks. The issue of food insecurity became "very dear to my heart," he said. "Being hungry is something that anyone can relate to." So when the food banks ran low on donations, Elist came up with a plan to help. He launched the nonprofit Save a Bottle, Save a Life, which raises money to purchase food by... Full story

  • Teen heroes: Jacob Gardenswartz takes to the stage to beat bullying

    Suzanne Kurtz Sloan|Apr 25, 2014

    WASHINGTON (JTA)-Sitting through an eighth-grade assembly as a police officer spoke of the dangers of bullying, Jacob Gardenswartz thought there had to be a better way to teach these important lessons. "I got the idea to really make it incredible so kids would stay engaged and wouldn't tune out," said Gardenswartz, now a senior at the Francis Parker School in San Diego. He set out to recruit other young actors, mostly from his friends, and formed Theater of Peace: The Beyond Bullying... Full story

  • Teen heroes: Philip Caine helps teens with broken hearts

    Suzanne Kurtz Sloan, JTA|Mar 14, 2014

    (JTA)-One evening, during a retreat for his Diller Teen Fellowship, Philip Caine told his fellow teens a truth about himself. At the age of 17, he had already undergone two open-heart surgeries. To his surprise, another teen told him that she had needed heart surgery as well. Together they decided to launch "Youth with Heart," to serve as an educational, mentoring and support group for other teenagers with congenital heart defects. Modeled after "Moms with Heart," an American Heart Association... Full story

  • Jessica Baer is helping eradicate slave trafficking in Ghana

    Suzanne Kurtz Sloan, JTA|Mar 14, 2014

    WASHINGTON (JTA)-Away for the summer at her New Jersey YM-YWHA Camp, Jessica Baer watched a video about children enslaved in Ghana. Baer, who was 10 years old at the time, realized just "how different my life was from theirs. I was hooked right away." The presentation was organized by Breaking the Chain through Education, a nonprofit that works to rescue child slaves and help eradicate slave trafficking by building schools in Ghana. By establishing local schools in poor villages, the group...

  • Puzzling project: Wallack helps patients

    Suzanne Kurtz Sloan, JTA|Aug 23, 2013

    (JTA)—Max Wallack was 6 years old when his beloved great-grandmother Gertrude came to live with him and his family in Natick, Mass. For four years he helped his parents take care of her and saw firsthand the effects of Alzheimer’s disease on her. But Wallack also noticed that when she and other Alzheimer’s patients would do simple jigsaw puzzles, their mood would lighten. The observation would change him forever. “Patients were so often depressed and agitated, but after they would do a puzzle,... Full story

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