Last week, I was privileged to serve, with others, as a judge for NCSY’s Jewish Unity Mentoring Program (JUMP) Leadership Competition, which represents the culmination of months of hard work, passion and creativity.
JUMP – a national program run by New York NCSY’s Director of Operations, Carol Rhine – offers teens skills-training, along with the opportunity to demonstrate on-the-ground leadership by creating projects and programs in their schools and communities. The program begins in the fall with a two-day conference focusing on practical leadership and project management skills. At the conference, this year’s JUMP Challenges were introduced: Fundraising, Israel Activism, Holocaust Remembrance, Anti-Bullying, and Charity. The conference participants dispersed to their hometowns to begin their projects in these areas.
Just some of these projects included “Take the BET (Bullying Ends Today),” an educational campaign addressing the halachic and societal obligation to end bullying; “INSECURI-T’s,” a T-shirt campaign to encourage people to embrace their unique qualities; a Holocaust memorial quilt, now hanging in the Glen Cove, NY, Holocaust Museum; a drive to assist new mothers who cannot afford basic baby needs; an Israel Advocacy education program; and more.
And so, last week, 35 teens from around the United States representing the five finalist JUMP teams – Columbus Torah Academy, Ohio; Kohelet Yeshiva HS, Philadelphia; RASG of Miami Beach, Florida; SKA, Lawrence, NY; and Seattle NCSY, WA – met in the Boardroom final at Weil, Gotshal, and Manges to determine “the best of the best.” The judges were Phillip Rosen (a corporate partner who also graciously provided the meeting space), Allen Fagin (chair of the OU Youth Commission), Rebecca Sugar (director of the Birthright Alumni Community of New York), and myself. Gary Rosenblatt, editor and publisher of the Jewish Week, was also in attendance.
In the end, RASG Miami was chosen as the winner, with special mention going to Seattle NCSY. It was a tough decision, as each of the finalists were certainly worthy. All of the JUMP participants – even those who did not make it to the Boardroom final – fill us not only with pride but with encouragement that the future of the Jewish people is going to be in some very capable hands.