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“My Habitat @ Home Sheckman Award Project is teaching me many new skills and strengthening my sense of teamwork and physical labor. Accomplishing the difficult tasks required to build a Habitat home is an excellent experience that is helping me realize the value of camaraderie achieved while working together to help the community. I’ve never developed and implemented my own service project before, and there is something very rewarding knowing that I am helping to construct a home for the needy with my bare hands as well as getting my peers to support my project’s vision.”
Ariella Nardizzi, Senior at Swampscott High School, 2016 Derek Sheckman Award Recipient
As we celebrate new beginnings, we ask, how can the power of our community, relationships and connections better serve all Jewish people?
Click HERE to learn about spending February vacation week building & repairing then kicking back to go bowling, go-carting & more at night!
#FBF to 2012 when Adam Sandler & crew took time to hang out with NSTI teens while filming Grown Ups 2! #HappyBirthday @adamsandler!
Where Are We GOing This Year?
Pokemon GO as a vehicle to deeper spiritual discovery? As I experienced this summer, the concept is not so far fetched!
When I saw complete strangers walking up to each other and striking up conversations in the middle of a park, I admittedly did a double-take. It was a beautiful summer evening, and I was on a rare night off camp. A friend and I went out for dinner in a nearby town, and decided to go for a walk in the town center afterwards. This was about a week after Pokemon GO was released, and while we had heard about it, we were enclosed within the camp bubble and had not yet experienced its true power.
As the main website charges, “Get up, get out and explore!” And people were doing just that. At first, it looked like a bunch of zombies walking around with their focus on their smartphone screens. But upon taking a step back, we noticed that groups were exploring together and even connecting with complete strangers over this newly discovered common interest. And while some retailers and museums have understandably embraced or winced as enthusiasts have wandered in, there has been plenty of good that has come from this craze that has certainly been sweeping the nation. When I offered a “PokeWalk” for our staff the following week, it was truly awesome to have nearly 20 staff members walking together, connecting over this shared enthusiasm and discovering new things…around us and about each other.
I’d like to take this concept to the next level. Imagine if we approached life like someone does while playing Pokemon GO – with excitement, anticipation, wonder. As we prepare for the new year, think about where our journeys will take us and identify what we would like to search for and add to our personal and collective narratives, we can connect our pop cultural interests with an older concept that is tried and true from our teachers.
“Our goal should be to live life in radical amazement. ….get up in the morning and look at the world in a way that takes nothing for granted. Everything is phenomenal; everything is incredible; never treat life casually. To be spiritual is to be amazed.” – Abraham Joshua Heschel
I believe that as Heschel teaches us, it is in the act of living and looking that we find amazement. (I usually add the tags #skyappreciation or #natureappreciation.) In this new year, may we be able to hit the pause button and slow it down every once in a while to seek out the holy in the ordinary – in ourselves, in our relationships with others, and in the environments surrounding us. Wouldn’t that be amazing?
This post is part of #BlogElul (Day 3: search), a small but mighty online movement to combine spiritual practice with our posting on social media – encouraging us to bring personal reflection and introspection to our posts, snapshots and captions. Cross-posted at BrettLubarsky.com and JewishBoston.com.
Brett Lubarsky is the Associate Director of the North Shore Teen Initiative, a national model for Jewish teen engagement serving the north and metro west suburbs of Boston. Over the past fifteen years, Brett has worked with Jewish youth and professionals at congregations and organizations throughout the country, specializing in adolescent, teen and emerging adult engagement, youth leadership and team development, Jewish service learning, educational technology and youth communications strategy. Brett is a Birthright Israel Fellow, spends his summers at Jewish overnight camp, loves to sing Sweet Caroline at Fenway Park while cheering on the Red Sox and is an avid bowler.
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