Five hundred teens from across Toronto and York Region participated in a day of community service and improvement projects as they took part in J-Serve, the Global Day of Jewish Youth Service, on April 17, 2016.
J-Serve is a worldwide initiative through which over twelve thousand Jewish teens from across North America, Europe and Israel participate in service projects all on the same day in more than a hundred communities around the world.
J-Serve is the Jewish service component of Youth Service America’s annual Global Youth Service Day. The program provides teens with the opportunity to fulfill the Jewish values of gemilut chasidim (acts of loving kindness), tzedakah (just and charitable giving), and tikkun olam (the responsibility to repair the world).
J-Serve Toronto took place at Tanenbaum Community Hebrew Academy of Toronto’s Wallenberg Campus (200 Wilmington Avenue, Toronto, ON M3H 5J8) from Noon to 5:00pm. This marks the seventh year that teens from across Toronto and York Region had the chance to participate in this international initiative hosted locally by BBYO Ontario and UJA Federation of Greater Toronto.
Participants were surprised by video greetings from three prominent community leaders who shared their thoughts on the importance of an engaged, inclusive and passionate citizenry.
Teens then chose from a dozen service projects such as assembling craft kits for children in hospitals, celebrating Passover alongside young adults with physical or cognitive challenges, engaging in social and recreational activities with seniors, and preparing meals for people living on the streets of downtown Toronto, among other projects.
- Hon. Mitzie Hunter, Associate Minister of Finance and Regional Minister (Multiculturalism) for the Government of Ontario, shared greetings on behalf of Premier Kathleen Wynne. “J-Serve highlights the powerful impact that a community can have when it comes together to bring real, tangible change to people’s lives,” said Minister Hunter. “Not only will this day provide the opportunity for you to fulfil the Jewish values of tzedakah (charity) and tikkun olam (the responsibility to repair the world), it will allow you to bring comfort and hope to the people that you will impact today,” she continued. “You are the future leaders of Ontario and Canada. Even as young people, you can be leaders in your communities right now and that leadership starts today.”
- Mayor Maurizio Bevilacqua of the City of Vaughan said that J-Serve “provides inspiration to other young people,” and added, “At an early age, you are realizing that the benefits of your actions can be far reaching.”
- Morris Zbar, President & CEO of UJA Federation of Greater Toronto, said that J-Serve “expresses the values of our community” and encouraged participants to continue to make sure that those who need help get help.
J-Serve Toronto coincided with the ninth annual ChangeTheWorld Ontario Youth Volunteer Challenge, a six week campaign that kicked off April 10 in partnership with Volunteer Canada’s National Volunteer Week, Canada’s largest celebration of volunteers, volunteerism, and civic participation.
The program was one of over a hundred simultaneous international events aimed at encouraging community building and connections across religious and societal lines. It highlighted BBYO’s core principles of Jewish-inspired leadership, patriotism, community service, inter-faith relations, philanthropy and ensuring the protection of democratic rights for all
"I feel very fortunate to be able to work alongside my peers to give back to the community and help those in need. By coming together for J-Serve Toronto with Jewish teens from all different youth movements to make a difference, we're shedding light on the positive changes that can occur when we all work together. J-Serve was an incredible experience and I can't wait to participate again next year," says Aaron Ockrant, 16.
Click to see more photos from J-Serve Toronto 2016
Even with so much to celebrate and be proud of, it's important that we recognize that J-Serve is just the beginning... there's more work to be done! "It is not upon you to finish the work, but neither are you free to desist from it." Pirkei Avot 2:16
Looking for more opportunities to learn about and get involved in service?
Email firstname.lastname@example.org about setting up a follow-up visit to your J-Serve project location or contact any of our service partners directly: Baycrest Health Sciences, Bernard Betel Centre for Creative Living, Canadian Friends of Yad Sarah in Toronto, Canadian Jewish Political Affairs Committee (CJPAC), Chai Lifeline Canada, Crafting for a Cure, Cummer Lodge, Dani Toronto, Harmony Place Support Services, Jewish Addiction Community Services (JACS Toronto), Jewish Immigrant Aid Services (JIAS Toronto), Jewish Music Week in Toronto, Kadima Educational Centre, Kehilla Residential Programme, One Family Fund, Shoresh Jewish Environmental Programs, Ve'ahavta, Volunteer Toronto, and UJA's Walk With Israel.
Plus, there are so many ways to get involved in Jewish teen life across Toronto and York Region!
To learn more about local BBYO Ontario programs open to 6th-12th grade students, contact Associate Regional Director Jordan Finewax at email@example.com or click here so we can connect with you!
You can also check out our amazing program partners for more great opportunities to get involved: Adath Israel Congregation, Alpha Epsilon Pi Fraternity, B'nai Tzedek Teen Philanthropy, Beit Rayim Synagogue, Beth David B’nai Israel Beth Am Synagogue, Beth Emeth Bais Yehuda Synagogue, Beth Tikvah Synagogue, Bnei Akiva of Toronto, Diller Teen Fellows Toronto, Eastern Canadian Region United Synagogue Youth, Hashomer Hatzair, Jewish Teen Board of Greater Toronto, March of the Living Toronto, NCSY Canada and Torah High, Oraynu Congregation for Humanistic Judaism, Shaar Shalom Synagogue, Shaarei-Beth El Congregation, Temple Emanu-El, and Tzofim.
And finally, we'd like to give a huge thank you to our J-Serve Toronto sponsors: BBYO International, BBYO Ontario, Double DJ Services, Forestdale Heights Lodge #2667 B'nai Brith Canada, and UJA Federation of Greater Toronto.
See you at J-Serve Toronto 2017 on April 2, 2017!
It has never been easier, or more fun, to make an impact!
J-Serve Toronto is a program of BBYO Ontario and UJA Federation of Greater Toronto.