By Sarah Michel
Senior at Winter Park High School 

Registration open for J-Serve 2015


Orlando J-Serve Teen Task Force volunteered at Kinneret Apartments over Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. Pictured left to right are Jonathan Hefley, Daniel Perreault, Taylor Harris, Rebecca Michel, Zach Wieselthier, Emily Weinstein, Jordan Harris, Hannah Wieselthier, Dana Samelson, Danielle Samelson, and Jonah Goldberg. (Not pictured: Sarah Michel and Hannah Fenster).

When the pitch for a campaign involves the phrase "serving the world," most teenagers would have a tendency to shrink away from the job. But for a group of Orlando Jewish teenagers, the magnitude of the job is what attracted them in the first place. J-Serve is a teen-led international day of Jewish youth service taking place in communities all across the world in the spring. From 12:30 to 5 p.m. on Sunday, April 12, all Jewish teens from sixth – 12th grade are invited to participate and open their hearts to the Jewish ideals of tzedakah, gimmilut chasidim, and tikkun olam.

Unlike most charitable programs, J-Serve is almost entirely teen-led, as shown by the slogan, "Jewish teens serving the world." The leaders of this event make up the J-Serve Teen Task Force, consisting of 13 Jewish teenagers from all over Orlando who range from eighth graders to seniors in high school. When asked why she decided to apply for the Task Force, Jewish Academy of Orlando eighth-grader Jordan Harris stated, "I wanted to get more involved in my community and take part in local leadership opportunities."

Seminole High School sophomore Jonathan Hefley agrees, saying, "I joined J-Serve because I wanted to be part of the change in my community. I saw the amazing event the team last year did and I wanted to be a part of the team this year."

J-Serve Teen Task Force applications were released in the fall of 2014, and preparations began in October. Through the fall, the task force met once per month. Then beginning in January, the meetings were twice per month which will continue up until the event on Sunday, April 12.

The Task Force, led by North Florida regional director of BBYO, Lory Conte, and The Roth Family JCC of Greater Orlando assistant executive director, Robby Etzkin, has been busy brainstorming, learning, and planning, all in the name of service.

Lyman High School senior Zach Wieselthier stated, "I've participated in J-Serve in years past, and I joined the Task Force because I wanted to make J-Serve even better than last year."

Judaism has always upheld the belief in giving back and the power young people can have. "At J-Serve 2014, I saw the impact such a little group of teens could make on the community, and I wanted to be a part of that," said Winter Park High School sophomore Rebecca Michel.

J-Serve 2015 is promising to be one of the best community service projects the Jewish community in Orlando has ever seen. "Like" the event on Facebook at for more information, and don't forget to join the Teen Task Force on Sunday, April 12 for this amazing day of service.


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