Teen Blog

Teen Blog

Have Love Will Travel

By Sarah Cohen, Masconomet High School 2019

The trip was so much fun! In the day we were able to help the less fortunate by building houses and at night we would do fun activities such as going to an arcade or shopping. I met people from all over the North Shore that I am now really good friends with. Before the Habitat trip, I was a bit nervous that I would be traveling with a group of teens that I had never met before. We got to the airport and I saw a few familiar faces, but many I did not know. Though I was nervous, I knew that this opportunity, traveling over a vacation week, was one like no other. To be able to travel with old and new friends, make memories, help the less fortunate, was one of the best experiences in my life. I can not wait to travel to NOLA this year and make even more amazing memories!
Make the world a better place this February 17-23, 2019 on our upcoming trip to New Orleans.

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Teen Blog

Teen Blog

Winding Down

After a Day on the Worksite

By Jacob Nagel, Marblehead HS 2020

Habitat For Humanity was one of my first trips with JTI and every moment of it was a blast. Throughout the week I learned about building homes and was able to bond with everyone on the trip. During the actual building of the homes, there was not one minute where anyone of us didn’t have something to do to help Habitat get closer to their deadline. Every evening, after we had worked all day, JTI always had something fun for us to do. Whether it was going to the Melting Pot and enjoying an amazing dessert, or going to go to my first NCAA basketball game between Boston College and North Carolina State, there was always something that everyone could enjoy. The trip had a great mixture of work and play. It allowed me to not only volunteer for an amazing organization, but have fun doing activities I would not be able to do at home. I recommend that everyone should do Habitat for Humanity, especially if you want to work, play and have fun!

Make the world a better place this February 17-23, 2019 on our upcoming trip to New Orleans.

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Teen Blog

Teen Blog

The Habitat of WORK

By Lily McGuirk, St. Mary’s 2020

My experience with Habitat allowed me to work hand in hand with other teens from the North Shore. We spent 5 days working on a house. When we started there was a frame of the house and after we left we had accomplished putting in window frames, and building dry walls…we really got to see our the progress we helped make. On the trip teens come together and form new bonds, and share the quality of helping others. Not only do you work together but it’s great to travel, visit a college, and enjoy fun activities. The trip is an amazing experience which develops character, and is an experience which you come back and remember. Teens who join the trip are driven to work because they feel it is important to help others. The JTI habitat trip is an amazing experience which I recommend you experience for yourself because I have had the privilege of connecting to my jewish faith, meeting other teens, and working for others.

Make the world a better place this February 17-23, 2019 on our upcoming trip to New Orleans.

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Teen Blog

Teen Blog

30 Hours in NYC

By Jenn Bloom, The Academy at Penguin Hall, 2020

Last November I had the pleasure of attending the 2017 New York City trip with the Jewish Teen Initiative. When I heard about the trip through my temple, I honestly wondered what we could possibly do since we would be in New York for such a short amount of time. Although, I can confidently say that I was wrong, and that we did so much more than I could have ever imagined. Despite being in New York for just over 24 hours, we spent every second experiencing and touring the area. When we were not sleeping or on the bus, we were doing all that we could.

When we arrived on Friday afternoon, we made it to the hostel and started preparing for Shabbat services and dinner with New York Jewish teens. Throughout the day, leading up to services, we enjoyed a delicious lunch at the Metro Diner, went on a food tour of the city, to a massive candy store, and had the opportunity to go to the Tenement Museum. Here we experienced the cramped living spaces and learned about the lives of past residents, such as a German Jewish family in the 1870s, and an Eastern European Orthodox Jewish family in 1918. We got to really understand and visualize how compact housing was, and what typical life was like years and years ago for large Jewish families. I found the museum to be the most interesting part of the trip, as it was an interactive, yet educational, component to our time together as a group. Personally, the museum opened my eyes to not only how much life has changed, but also how lucky I am for my living situation, and life in general. Jewish life has significantly evolved since then and I am thankful for the way it has.

On day two in the city, when the trip was starting to come to an end, we visited the Museum of Natural History, where we got to roam around the museum and go look at what intrigued us the most. Personally, I was fascinated by the marine biology exhibits, where I got to further educate myself about all of the species and wildlife that live in our world. We then had the pleasure of watching The Play That Goes Wrong, and of course, being typical tourists, walked around Times Square. With all of this said, through my time in New York, I had the chance to not only meet other Jewish teens, but also educate myself on the history of Jewish life, culture, and upbringings. I truly do believe that this trip is an amazing opportunity because I was able to see the Jewish religion in a new way—in a way that I never got to see through Hebrew school or services. I was able to connect with fellow Jewish teens and people that I’ve never even met. I comprehended how being Jewish plays a major role in my life and how Judaism shapes my life altogether. I’m thankful JTI made this experience possible and highly recommend the trip to anyone who is considering going this year.

Sound interesting? Learn more here.

Article Repost

Article Repost

Jewish Teen Initiative partners with Ruderman Foundation to break down barriers

By Michael Wittner
JOURNAL CORRESPONDENT

There is a commandment in Leviticus that prohibits placing “stumbling blocks before the blind.”

Though this line has been subject to many interpretations, for Brett Lubarsky, associate director of the Jewish Teen Initiative of Boston, it’s a call to remove barriers for people in difficult situations.

“Our tradition teaches and encourages us to remove the stumbling blocks that are before people,” said Lubarsky. “In the community, there are a number of teens who for any number of reasons have not been able to connect or find the right niche.”

JTI had those teens in mind when it partnered with the Ruderman Family Foundation to create what is known as the Ruderman Peer Inclusion Fellows for JTI’s three-year-old Peer Leadership Fellows program. The new inclusion track helps train JTI’s Peer Fellows – teens in grades 10 and 11 who help connect other Jewish teens with meaningful events, projects, and groups – to remove the various barriers that can prevent full engagement.

“There are a number of wonderful and important programs and opportunities for teens with different types of disabilities,” said Lubarsky. “But no one often says, ‘Hey, come do this with all of us.’”

Prior to the Ruderman partnership, JTI had to hire additional staff to support inclusion. Now, the new Peer Inclusion cohort of JTI’s Peer Fellows will fill that role. With help from the Ruderman Foundation, 10 teens from around the Boston area have been trained to serve as companions for teens with disabilities at events where they might otherwise feel left out.

“This initiative is looking into mainstream inclusion into events that already exist,” said Lubarsky. “To give an example, if your temple youth group was having a bowling event, and somebody didn’t feel comfortable for whatever reason … having a buddy would allow them to have a successful experience.”

Lubarsky noted it remains to be seen if Peer Fellows will accompany the same teen to different events, or if they will buddy with different teens on an as-needed basis.

“I think it’s really going to depend on the needs of the individuals,” he said. “We want to personalize it. I think the goal is to be able to develop those relationships.”

Peer Fellows attend regular trainings on how to build relationships and establish trust with teens of all abilities. On Sept. 15-16, JTI welcomed its 40 new Peer Fellows, including the 10 in the inclusion cohort, for a weekend-long training at the Warren Conference Center and Inn in Ashland. The training covered, among other aspects of community leadership and engagement, how to effectively communicate, particularly in the age of smartphones. Lubarsky referred to it as “relational engagement” and “sensitivity training.”

“What we are encouraging them to do, and helping provide them with the tools and skills to be able to do, is to have conversations in real life,” said Lubarsky. “[We’re teaching them to] build relationships by listening, discussing, empathizing … and building connections with another person.”

Much of the training incorporated simulated role-playing activities that anticipated the challenges they might encounter.

The current cohort of Peer Leadership will begin their work in November. They each receive an annual stipend of $500, and it is stressed that this is a job, as opposed to a volunteer position.

According to JTI Executive Director Adam Smith, the inclusion fellows are Peer Fellows who specialize in inclusion. “The whole infrastructure of peer leadership has to do with prioritizing relationships and connection first,” said Smith.

Reposted from The Jewish Journal – September 20, 2018

Leadership Training Weekend

Leadership Training Weekend

This weekend, #JTIBoston kicked-off the new year in style! #PeerLeadershipFellows from the Metrowest, North Shore and the San Diego Jewish Teen Initiative – along with our brand new The Ruderman Family Foundation Peer Inclusion Fellows came together for an action-packed 24 hours of connecting and learning. Thank you to everyone for making this weekend a huge success, with special thanks to CJP – Combined Jewish Philanthropies, The Ruderman Family Foundation, Hillel International and Gateways: Access to Jewish Education for their support and partnership! We’re excited to start connecting with more #JewishBostonTeens and #SDJewishTeens!

See our 2018 Peer Leadership Fellows Training Seminar photos HERE.

We also had a fantastic Sunday at Project Adventure doing leadership training and team-building  with teen Madrichim from Temple Emanu-El and Congregation Shirat Hayam and other #JewishBostonTeens leaders! Thanks to everyone for pushing yourself out of your comfort zone and reaching new heights! #JTIBoston #madrichimtraining #challenge #projectadventure

See this year’s Project Adventure photos HERE.

Pool Party Splashback

Pool Party Splashback

We teamed up with the Summer at the J staff to throw the best bash of summer! Almost 100 teens swam, danced, devoured treats from Terry’s Ice Cream truck and celebrated the close of a fantastic summer together. Thanks to our #JTIBoston teens and friends at Jewish Community Center of the North Shore, Lappin Foundation Y2I, BBYO New England Region and everyone else for making it a splashing good time!

Water you doing now that you’re home from camp and your summer adventures? Check out JewishTeenInitiative.org for lots of waves to get connected with other #JewishBostonTeens in the coming year!

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Staff Blog

Staff Blog

JTI ’s Jewish Camping

 

#JewishBostonTeens are all over the map this summer, taking their journeys to Jewish overnight camps, Israel and beyond! The JTI Team is getting ready for an exciting new year, but the FOMO (fear of missing out) is real…so we’re spending some time at camp, too!

We’ve heard from a bunch of our teens who are having an amazing time in #Israel with Lappin FoundationY2I, Camp Pembroke & Camp Tel Noar.    Where has your Jewish journey taken you this summer? We’d love to hear from you! #jtiboston #howucamp

Follow Brett and Gabe’s adventures, in addition to our teens’, on our social media channels.

Wishing all of our #JewishBostonTeens a great final few days at your summer homes away from home – we can’t wait to reconnect when you get home from #jewishcamp & plug back in! See you soon!

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Counselors in Carts Getting Canteen

Check out Sophie, a Metrowest Cohort 1 Peer Leader Fellow, in this video from Camp Tel Noar.

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PEM Kindness Day 2018

How are you helping to spread kindness this summer?

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Pictured: Camp Pembroke, Peer Leadership Fellows in Israel with Y2I, The Cohen Camps Dor L’Dor program and Camp Tel Noar.

bullet point  Brett Lubarsky is Associate Director and Gabe Miner is Program Director of JTI – Boston