Jewish Family Service was bursting with energy on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, as a large group of teenagers from the Midrasha and Shalshelet programs at Temple Beth El stocked the Community Food Pantry, made glittery Purim cards for older adults in residential facilities and organized pantry supplies.
“Dr. [Martin Luther] King not only gave great speeches about our future as a more just society, but he actively worked toward his vision. Therefore, it is fitting to honor Dr. King by not only learning about Jewish values such as tikkun olam and tzedakah, but actively working toward helping our community,” said Alicia Zahn, head of school at Temple Beth El.
The Midrasha program is for 7th through 9th graders who belong to Temple Beth El, and leads to confirmation. Shalshelet, for 10th through 12th graders, is open to Jews of all denominations throughout the Lehigh Valley, and focuses on exploring teen issues, social justice, Israel and Jewish identity through the lens of Jewish ideals and values.
“We often run collection drives for Jewish Family Service, but we do not often know exactly how our donations are making a difference. Therefore, we were really excited to learn that Chelsea Karp from Jewish Family Service could bring our group in to help out on-site,” Zahn said of the volunteer day.
She continued, “JFS opened their doors to our lively group of teens and provided them with jobs for the morning. They explained the impact of these jobs and how they would directly affect the people served by JFS. Our students were motivated to make a difference and they felt very appreciated. JFS is such an important resource in our community and after this meaningful experience, we hope to cooperate with JFS in the future for more hands-on mitzvot.”
The teens enjoyed their day, which concluded with pizza and thanks from staff members. They walked away with a greater understanding of how they made a difference.
“It feels so good to give back to a community that has given us so much,” said participant Joelle Pitkoff.