Orthodox Union Launches ‘Project Community’ a Unique Summer Experience for Teens to Benefit Local Communities

19 Aug 2020

New Jersey Programs Will Combine Community Service, Learning, Sports & Entertainment Complying With State Guidelines

TEANECK, New Jersey – With camp, travel and NCSY Summer programs cancelled as a result of the pandemic, the Orthodox Union (OU), has created Project Community 2020 (PC20), a summer initiative focused on engaging teens, college students and Yachad members. Launching across the US and Canada on July 6th, in conjunction with the OU’s NCSY, Yachad and OU-JLIC, PC20 offers teens recreation combined with the Jewish learning and volunteer opportunities to bring support to local communities.

“During a time like this, the OU’s mission of supporting the community’s needs is more critical than ever before. Project Community looks to do this by engaging our teens, college students and Yachad members to help our community respond to this crisis.Our youth will be critical players in meeting the needs of others and experience the incomparable taste of making a difference in the lives of our community leading, hopefully, to a life of such service,” added Orthodox Union Incoming Executive Vice President Rabbi Moshe Hauer.

“The closure of summer camp programs this summer has left thousands of teens across North America with a desperate need for structured programming and there is a desire from both these teens and their parents to participate in Torah learning opportunities as well as help the community prevail over this unprecedented disruption, ” said Orthodox Union President Moishe Bane. “The OU is proud to have brought together all of our departments to develop Project Community 2020 as both a way to engage our teens and address our community needs as we rebuild after this pandemic.”

The New Jersey program will include versions of Kollel and Michlelet, both based in Teaneck and aimed at providing teens with morning religious programing including prayer and learning, similar to the way the NCSY Summer programs bearing the same names operate in Israel. The programs will both also include sports and recreational activities in the afternoon and two nights of activities each week that will be planned dynamically as the state continues to re-open. In the afternoons, teens will have a variety of volunteering opportunities, including having teens participate in building a house with Habitat for Humanity.

Highland Park and Edison will feature similar afternoon volunteering programs for teens a few times per week which will include an educational component. Similar programs specifically for the public school teen audience will also run in both the MetroWest and Bergen County areas.

“Our goal is fairly simple, to provide opportunities for our teens to come back together as a community,” said New Jersey NCSY & JSU Regional Director Rabbi Aryeh Wielgus, who is overseeing the state’s programs. “Our hope is that the program maximizes our participants’ ability to have fun together, learn together, volunteer together and ultimately grow together as our communities re-emerge from our shutdowns.”

All programs will be run in accordance with state and local health requirements. For more information, please visit https://www.pc20.org.

Founded in 1898, the Orthodox Union, (OU), serves as the voice of American Orthodox Jewry, with over 400 congregations in its synagogue network. As the umbrella organization for American Orthodox Jewry, the OU is at the forefront of advocacy work on both state and federal levels, outreach to Jewish teens and young professionals through NCSY, Israel Free Spirit Birthright, Yachad and OU Press, among many other divisions and programs.