Jewish Group Partnering With Habitat For Humanity & Martin Luther King Center
LONG BEACH, New York – Jewish teens will help rebuild the home of the Long Beach Martin Luther King Center’s chairman, work with volunteers to help feed local residents, beautify the neighborhood, and enhance the Center’s library offerings. The teens are participating in a program that is part of the Orthodox Union’s Project Community 2020 (PC20)’s partnership with Habitat for Humanity and the Center.
PC20 is the Orthodox Union’s initiative focused on giving Jewish teens and young adults an enjoyable and enriching summer experience while helping their communities during the Coronavirus pandemic.
The teens and young adults will engage with the local Black community through the Martin Luther King Center in a number of ways, including its food insecurity program. The teens will help to build local vegetable gardens, as well as assemble salads from PC20-provided ingredients to help supplement the organization’s ongoing lunch program for community members in need.
While volunteering for Habitat for Humanity, the teens will rebuild the home of Long Beach Martin Luther King Center’s chairman James Hodge which was destroyed during Hurricane Sandy in 2012. Since that time, Hodge has selflessly dedicated his time and energy to helping others in his community recover while his own home remains in ruins.
“When creating PC20, our central goal was to provide our teens an invigorating and impactful experience, despite COVID-19 closures,” said Orthodox Union Executive Vice President Rabbi Moshe Hauer. “By working together with members of other communities and helping the underprivileged and deserving, our teens gain understanding of the needs of others and will be better able to partner with other communal groups as the next generation of Jewish leaders.”
“A key component of PC20 is helping our youth appreciate that attending to the needs of others is a core component of Orthodox Judaism, and that there are countless manners of doing so,” said Orthodox Union President Moishe Bane. “PC20, therefore, includes numerous forms of volunteerism, and helping rebuild James Hodge’s home teaches our teens that the importance of providing help extends beyond the immediate Jewish community most familiar to them.”
PC20 estimates that within a few weeks, 100 teens from New York and New Jersey will volunteer their time in Long Beach, where they will also hear from Hodge about Black history and culture. NCSY Relief Missions is overseeing the projects on the ground, which will engage groups from NCSY’s other PC20 programs from both states.
“The impact these last few months have had on our teens is profound. Observing social unrest over the racial injustice in our country has led many teens to want to give back to their neighbors, not just those in their immediate community,” said the Director of NCSY Relief Missions Rabbi Ethan Katz. “It has empowered them to want to do their part in healing racial divides in our country and they are excited about this program as it offers them an opportunity to work directly with the Black community.”
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.