Heritage Florida Jewish News - Central Florida's Independent Jewish Voice

By Elie Basher
10th grader Lake Brantley High School 

It was a successful J-Serve day


Nearly 75 Jewish teens gather for the fifth annual teen-led J-Serve at The Roth Family JCC on Sunday, March 5.

On March 5, The Roth Family JCC hosted the fifth annual teen-led J-Serve day of community service for Jewish teens. Nearly 75 teens from grades 6th-12th grades joined together in the JCC to choose between two project tracks: a senior Purim prom party or an LGBTQ advocacy art project program. To start the day, the teens participated in many fun and exciting icebreakers and got to know other Jewish teens from Orlando. The Teen Task Force, who worked since fall to plan and facilitate this day, led the icebreakers and incorporated technology using QR codes and a mobile-friendly website Kahoot, that allowed the teens to answer trivia questions about Judaism, J-Serve, and pop culture using their phones.

The actual service programs were a great success. Teens who signed up for the Purim prom party got to create an atmosphere and help throw a fantastic party for the JCC's 39ers senior group. Activities included karaoke, a "magic mirror" photography booth, mask making, a Purim Shpiel that incorporated teens and seniors together, and some dancing. The seniors were appreciative of the wonderful program and many proudly wore their J-Serve T-shirts, given to them by the teens, on Monday when they were back at the JCC.

The Teen Task Force stands with a canvas they made at J-Serve, which will be donated to the Zebra Coalition. The teens are (l-r), Dylan Sachs, Sara Cooper, Noah Senderowitz, Eli Goldberg, Jordan Harris, Elie Basher, and Rebecca Michel.

The group of teens who chose the LGBTQ advocacy art project heard about and discussed Judaism in the gay community along with guest speaker, and UCF student leader, Trudy Morse, who gave a powerful and meaningful speech to her teenage audience and then answered any and all questions the teens had afterwards. The other part of the project supporting the LGBTQ community involved teens colorfully decorating a canvas that the Zebra Coalition will be delivering to the Pulse memorial.

The day came to a close with guest speakers Paul Bryan, board member for the Zebra Coalition, and Jane Edelstein, intergenerational program director at the Jewish Pavilion, providing the teens resources to help others and to continue making a difference through volunteering.

The goal of this year's J-Serve was to support communities that the Teen Task Force felt were underserved. Overall, the event was a huge success with many Jewish teenagers uniting as one and coming together to spread awareness to important causes while helping out their community.


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