After months of planning and execution, Southern NCSY’s largest Jewish Student Union (JSU) club, Hi Tides at Miami Beach Senior High School, dedicated its Mitzvah Garden in honor of Mr. Jonathan Nelson, history teacher and the club’s sponsor. More than 80 participants worked over the school year to identify an abandoned lot on campus and volunteered to plant and beautify the lot. A dedication ceremony was held where the plaque was installed and a very surprised and touched Mr. Nelson was in tears with the students’ display of appreciation.
JSU clubs, which are part of NCSY, the Orthodox Union’s international youth movement, are found in hundreds of public high schools across North America.
Rabbi Avi Fried, director of education and Miami Beach NCSY, said, “The purpose of the Hi Tides club was to engage JSU members in the study of ecology, tikkun olam and other Jewish values. Mr. Nelson is a wonderful believer in Jewish youth and an activist to get kids more involved in the Jewish community. He is also president of a foundation that is dedicated to helping Jewish teens receive a Jewish education, formally and informally, and this was a wonderful way to thank him for all he does for the Jewish future.”
“The future is in your hands,” declared Todd Cohn, executive director of Southern NCSY, as he addressed the dozens of attendees to the dedication. “Each and every one of you is like this garden in that you are so full of potential and your futures are bright, exciting and beautiful!”
Kayla Rynor, president of the PTSA and mother of Morgan Rynor, active JSU participant, said, “The Jewish Student Union has planted a garden at Beach High. It is much more than a garden, however. It is a visible representation of the efforts of many, such as the Osman family, to bring a Jewish club to the school.”
Sabina Osman, president of Hi Tides JSU, shared, “It feels great to graduate from my school leaving this behind as my legacy. Together, we were able to motivate the Jewish student body here and to really see the fruits of our labors pay off. When I return as an alumnus in a few years, I’m going to look at this garden we planted, and feel honored to have left this for others to enjoy.”