Teen Article


logoMaking My Break Count 3

“Sticking Our Necks Out” to Help Others

By Dylann Cooper of Beverly

Since this past February was my first time participating in Habitat for Humanity, I didn’t know what to expect or what I would do. I knew there would be a lot of work involved but never did I imagine how much fun and how rewarding the whole experience would be.

The entire North Shore Teen Initiative group was so inviting as well as the Habitat staff and AmeriCorps volunteers in North Carolina who made me feel like a part of the team and not just another teen volunteer. This experience has completely opened my eyes to the extent of how much I am able to help people in this world, and how appreciative I am of the people of Habitat and NSTI, who are helping us kids on the North Shore give back.

I never realized how this trip would impact me like it did: it was amazing knowing that I was working hard to help a family who was also working hard (in a different way, of course) to be able to buy a house and to provide a better life for their family.

At one point I was standing inside the foundation of one of the three houses we were working on, and it hit me that what I was physically standing on at that moment, was soon going to be the door of a brand new home. Of course, at that time it was still all dirt and didn’t look much like anything with its cement and brick foundation; not much taller than I am in some areas, even where the ground was higher. However, in a few short months it would have doors and walls and a roof.

Once I really realized this, it made me feel even more incredible about what I was doing for a family I didn’t even know. It also proved to me that I didn’t need to know these people to help change their lives. I think this gave me a new strength to complete what we had gone to Raleigh to do, and to give this house’s new family the sense of pride that they deserved in being able to buy themselves a house with hard-earned money — I was just a little part of helping that dream become a reality for them.

During our last day on-site, we drove through the community of houses that the 2011 NSTI group had worked on two years prior. I was in complete awe that we were actually seeing the work of this astounding organization and the good it does for people all over the country and the world.

Growing up Jewish and going to Hillel, I was taught how important it is to be a giraffe and stick my neck out to help others, and at this point, what I had done really felt like tikkun olam. I am so thankful for this experience and can’t wait until next year to go back!

bullet point  Dylann was a Habitat 2013 participant.


Teen Article

l'shaper photo

Giving Back 2

How will you get involved?

By Robbie Mindel of Marblehead

Volunteering with NSTI is always great. No matter what we do, we have fun. Last spring I got involved in a program called L’Shaper. Almost every Monday for a few months, about 10 teens have dinner and discussion together starting at Temple Sinai then head to the Ford School in Lynn. Half the group work with children either tutoring or through “enrichment activities,” while the other half of our group works directly with the adult learners tutoring in Math and English.

It was a lot of fun to play Uno, Monopoly, and Connect Four again and teach at the same time. Some teen volunteers did art projects, geography games, or math and science exercises, depending on what the kids enjoyed.

The one-on-one contact we get to have with the young students of the Ford School makes a big difference in their social confidence and connections to other people. I encourage other teens out there to volunteer their time to find a Service Learning program that lines up with their schedules and works for them. It is something you will always remember.

bullet point  Robbie was a L’Shaper 2013 participant.

Teen Article

Torah Hub photo

Why Is My Footprint So Big?Carbon Footprint graphic

Reducing my Carbon Footprint

By Lior Shemesh of Danvers

Discussion 3 was my first time at Torah Hub for Teens and it was an experience to remember. At Temple Ahavat Achim, I had a chance to learn about Eco-Judaism and reducing my carbon footprint with my closest friends who I worked with at Habitat For Humanity during spring break. I recently became interested in recycling and reusing, and learning more about how to improve my carbon footprint was really helpful. After hearing about how the new temple in Gloucester is “green-improved,” we watched an amazing video called The Story of Stu that showed how our country and the world uses and wastes.

It is crazy to think that each step of manufacturing takes up so much energy and creates toxic waste.

After watching the insightful video about mother Earth and what we can do to protect it, we went on a scavenger hunt. We were able to talk about the improvements made in the new temple. You can tell from looking at the new building that it is green. e amount of windows that light up the building instead of lights being used at all times during the day makes a huge difference. The lights are compact fluorescent and movement- activated, so they are only on when there is movement in the room which helps save loads on energy. The building also has a cool new insulation, a spray- on foamy, white material that keeps the heat in and the cool out in the winter, and in the summer does the opposite.

Having only a small amount of time at the Torah Hub, NSTI’s Executive Director Adam Smith took four teens including me to Friendly’s to recap, discuss our opinions on the program and to mingle. SMARTY YAiSH’s Youth Director Darren Benedick came along as did the guest speaker of the program, Getzel Davis, who we were able to get to know a little better. He is a rabbinic student at Hebrew College in Newton and is really inspired to help the world become a greener place.

bullet point  Lior Shemesh was a 2012 Torah Hub Participant.

Soup-er Sunday Through the Years

Soup-er Sunday photo

In Their Own Words

Read what NSTI teens have said, in their own words, about leadership, service and pie at NSTI’s annual Soup-er Sunday celebration of Mitzvah Day International.

“Soup-er Sunday provided an excellent medium to immerse myself in a community effort to make people happy on Thanksgiving with homemade pies, lasagna, and soup. Being able to use my baking expertise in a way that gives back to the community was a heart warming experience and one in which I look forward to participating in next year!”

~ Austin Sagan, Soup-er Sunday 2012

“This year, I was able to specifically deliver the lasagna, soups and pies to the Lynn Emergency Shelter. It was a really touching experience to be able to see the people that we all had helped to provide for. One thing I’ll never forget are the huge smiles they all had on their faces when they saw the endless trays of food.”

~ Sophie Scott, Soup-er Sunday 2012

“It was great to see so many kids working together to make a difference in our community…there must have been around 50…and Rabbi Fine’s lesson on world hunger and Judaism really gave our work meaning.”

~ Jacob Cline, Soup-er Sunday 2010

“Soup-er Sunday was a day full of nonstop laughter, fun and entertaining ourselves while making food. NSTI events always create new friendships. I was glad I was able to help people out so they can have food on their plates.”

~ Jessica Greenbaum, Soup-er Sunday 2010

Teen Article

Coffee House photo

First Impressions

Discovering Improv

By Lauren Sliva of Peabody

If you had asked me if I was interested in joining a band through a Jewish program last year, I might have refused. Now I think it’s one of the best choices I’ve made to date.

I play the saxophone, and before Jam Space, I had never really been part of a real band other than the ones they offer at my high school. When I started attending, it was a little intimidating to have scales thrown at me and to be told to improvise for the first time, but it was worth it to try something new. It’s true when people say learning improvisation is just like learning a whole new instrument; it’s my favorite thing to do now.

Prepping weekly with a group of talented musicians really broadened the variety of music that I play. I’ve been introduced to funk and reggae music that I doubt I would’ve picked up on my own. When we preformed as a band at the Howling Wolf in Salem, I loved showing what all of our hard work had produced. As a band we came very far and I’m proud of the performance we put on. I’ve become great friends with everyone else in the band and I’m always looking forward to our next practice.

bullet point  Lauren Sliva was a 2011 Coffee House performer with Meshugganh.

Teen Article

Project Adventure photo

Project Fun

An Amazingly Unique Experience

By Jessica Gindelsky of Marblehead

On September 18, I went to Project Adventure at Moraine Farm for an incredible day. Our group of twelve did all kinds of personally challenging things including playing team building games, grappling with a giant see-saw, climbing and get- ting passed through impossible holes in a spider’s web and even climbing a ten-foot wall, all while supporting each other both verbally and physically.

It was an amazingly unique experience that really let us show our leadership and trust skills.

I especially enjoyed the spider web and the wall-climbing course. Our whole group had so much fun lifting our teammates through the tiny spider holes and supporting and spotting one another as we climbed up and over the ten-foot wall.

The best moments were definitely all the laughs we shared together. I was excited the whole bus ride there, but I couldn’t have imagined the insane amount of fun we would have. The event definitely went above and beyond my expectations.

As this event was particularly close to the High Holidays, it was really cool to be together. I also really liked meeting other Jewish teens from different areas, and if this event will be offered again, I will definitely go!

bullet point  Jessica was a Project Adventure 2011 participant.

Teen Article

Soup-er Sunday 2015 article photo

Serve It Up

Mitzvah & Fun…Bam! What?

By Sophie Scott & Abby Price of Swampscott

On Sunday, November 6, we entered Shubie’s Marketplace in Marblehead not knowing what to expect. We thought there might be about 10, maybe 12 kids there. When we walked up the stairs, we saw the whole kitchen was filled to the brim with teens laughing and talking, in the process of making soup, lasagna and pies to donate to the hungry of the North Shore. We jumped right in without hesitation and started helping make lasagna.

At first we were really confused about the process, but with the assistance of some of our wonderful leaders — Maura Copeland, Lajla LeBlanc and Adam Smith — we quickly were set on the right track.

“I went in [to Soup-Er Sunday] trying to get my community service hours for Y2I, but it was so much more than that. It was a time to give back to the community, perform a mitzvah and even have some fun,” says Rashel Rabinovich, of the event.

This event, along with all of the other North Shore Teen Initiative (NSTI) events we have been attending over the years, is an awesome place to get to know other Jewish teens, and really get to understand our Jewish identities and have fun in the process.

“It’s amazing to see so many people coming together and helping people in need,” was what Jessica Greenbaum thought of Soup-Er Sunday. As Jewish teens, doing events like this really connects us back to our Jewish values and culture. To us, being Jewish means we are there for others, no matter what religion, to help and assist to the best of our abilities.

We find that, along with our new friends, we enjoy doing things to better the community and, when volunteering our time for just a few hours, we can make an enormous difference.

bullet point  Sophie & Abby were Soup-er Sunday 2011 participants.

Teen Article

JTI photo

Summer Better than Others

Best Internship Ever – at Summer Camp!

By Lior Shemesh of Danvers

This past summer, a group of Jewish teens volunteered for two (or more) weeks in an unbelievable leadership program and work experience internship at Camp Simchah On The Hill and Kinder Camp as part of The Jewish Teen Internship (JTI) program.

We rotated our schedules to have the chance to work with all different aged kids in a variety of dif- difin – dif ferent activities. The specialty camps were art, tennis and krav maga, which were followed by the volunteers taking charge of the entire camp to run programs and games for the kids on our own.

I learned so much about being a leader from this program, not only in the Jewish community, but anywhere I go. Each week, we took part in a service learning program that was sponsored by the North Shore Teen Initiative. During my first week, we went to lynn Woods l and spent two hours helping to clear an area which was to be later used for a children’s festival. We picked up trash and shattered glass and de-weeded areas of the park. While this might sound like a mundane task, the fact that I was doing it with 10 of my friends not only made the afternoon go faster, but also made it enjoyable.

One of my favorite memories from the summer was during Shabbat, when all of Kinder camp came together to sing songs, dance and perform the mitzvah of giving tzedakah. It was inspiring to watch kids under the age of six show selft – he self lessness by giving money to charity. By the end of the summer, the Kinder camp alone had raised over $50 which was donated to the food pantry. I guess it goes to show that even though we were there to help teach the kids, they were the ones who inspired us, because after that point, we gave tzedakah too.

I would re-live the summer again in a minute, because it was so much fun meeting new people, working at a camp and helping the kids and the community.

bullet point  Lior was a JTI 2010 participant.