Seattle NCSY is launching a line of t-shirts, called Insecuri-T’s; gathered hundreds of dollars worth of canned goods, raised more than $2,000 for an NCSYer’s rehabilitation following an accident; and inadvertently saved a Mom-and-Pop movie theater in Seattle.
All this, as part of Seattle NCSY’s first year of participation in the Jewish Unity Mentoring Program (JUMP), a national leadership training program run by New York NCSY’s director of development, Carol Rhine.
NCSY is the international youth movement of the Orthodox Union.
The program begins each fall with 20 teams from across the United States gathering in New York city to learn the practical leadership and management skills they’ll need to compete in the JUMP Challenge. This year, teens were asked to address five topics: fundraising, Israel activism, Holocaust remembrance, anti-bullying and charity.
The Seattle NCSY team, led by Seattle NCSY Director Ari Hoffman and star NCSY advisor Nina Garkavi, jumped right into the competition. For the bullying challenge, teens wrote something they were insecure about on the front of a white t-shirt and a response to that insecurity on the back. Teens wrote about their feelings regarding their weight, their looks and their intelligence. One individual, a cancer survivor, wrote on the front of her t-shirt: “I may not have long hair.” The back of her shirt read: “But it doesn’t mean I’m not a princess.”
For the charity challenge, Seattle NCSY partnered with the youth organization BBYO on a program called “Catching Fire For Hunger Awareness and Advocacy.” Teens were able to attend a screening of the second installment of the Hunger Games trilogy before it went to theatrical release; the price of entry was a contribution of two canned goods. The charity challenge included a second component — extra credit, if you will — for which Seattle NCSY rented out a small theater and screened two movies: one for NCSYers and one for their parents. The second movie night raised $2,000 for Orly Ohayon, an NCSYer from Jacksonville, FL, who was badly injured in a car accident on Kol Nidrei night that claimed her mother’s life. Hoffman said that most people weren’t aware that a small, privately-owned theater was located in their area. Prior to the events, Hoffman said, the theater was considering closing.
For Israel awareness, Seattle NCSY brought noted speaker David Olesker to Northwest Yeshiva High to discuss the challenges Israel faces on the global stage. For their Holocaust remembrance challenge, a Holocaust survivor was videotaped sharing his story of survival. Afterwards, Seattle NCSY posted the speech edited along with NCSYers recounting his story in their own words.
The year-long competition came to an end on March 19 in the Manhattan boardroom of the law firm Weil Gotshal & Manges LLP, graciously provided by Philip Rosen, a partner in the firm, and the head judge of JUMP. In addition to Rosen, JUMP was judged by Rabbi Steven Weil, executive vice president of the Orthodox Union; Allen I. Fagin, Youth Chair Commission of the Orthodox Union and Rebecca Sugar, director of the Birthright Alumni Community of New York. As a final touch, Seattle NCSY made all the judges create their own Insecuri-T’s with their own insecurities.
“The judges were unanimously impressed with the Seattle team,” explained Fagin. “Their enthusiasm was contagious, their projects well chosen and well executed and their creativity truly remarkable. Equally impressive was that this was a community team, made of wonderful young people from multiple backgrounds, that came together in support of common goals and aspirations. It was an outstanding testament to the unity of the Seattle community and a marvelous model for the Jewish people.”
Seattle NCSY’s JUMP team was awarded the grand prize in the small cities category of the day’s competition.
JUMP meets on Wednesday Nights at Jewish High in the Stroum Jewish Community Center on Mercer Island. For more info please visit www.jewishhighseattle.com