Today is my 30th birthday and I am inviting you to join me in celebrating my big day by partnering with me in raising $5,000 for the Jewish Student Union of Jacksonville, a program of NCSY JAX. This program brings Judaism to public and private high school campuses in the form of student led clubs open to everyone. Students from all backgrounds get together and learn about a Jewish value or upcoming holiday together with an advisor and some kosher food. Let me tell you why this means so much to me.
About 10 years ago I got involved with NCSY, which is the premier organization dedicated to connect, inspire and empower Jewish teens and encourage passionate Judaism through Torah and Tradition. I started as an advisor for middle school students and eventually high school students as well. Over the next ten years I helped in various roles including advisor, donor, volunteer, interim director and now director. I have seen dozens of lives changed through this organization including my own.
When I was in high school I struggled with Judaism and many of my friends at the time abandoned our traditions entirely. I was lucky enough to come in contact with a rabbi who reached out to me and helped me to see the beauty of Judaism. He introduced me to Torah in a way I'd never experienced it before and gave me the confidence and room to explore what it meant to me and take ownership of my own spiritual journey. This is exactly what NCSY does.
NCSY connects with Jewish teens through innovative, cutting-edge social and recreational programs to develop a positive Jewish identity. But the real magic of NCSY is in the dedicated staff and advisors who build real relationships with the teens. For many of us we are just trying to offer an introduction to Judaism and get teens to take ownership of their spiritual journey. Today I study weekly with one of the middle schoolers who I started with 10 years ago. He's no longer in NCSY (as he is in college now) but the relationships we build last a lifetime.
Turning 30 is definitely a big deal to me. I'm married now with three children. I have a mortgage. I have responsibilities I didn't even know existed 10 years ago. I look back at my accomplishments and failures up to now and I look forward to the future I'd like to see. Life definitely has its ups and downs and we change a lot in our lives but for me one of the most powerful tools I have is the inspiration I get from our heritage.
I ask you to please give to the Jewish Student Union so we can inspire the Jewish future together.
Director, NCSY JAX