JChoice.org and Kehillah Partnership
24th January 2010
We at JChoice.org were excited to be invited to speak at the Kehillah Partnership in New Jersey. The Kehillah Partnership is a unique and special collaboration between the Bergen County YJCC and 10 New Jersey congregations (Temple Avodat Shalom, Jewish Community Center of Parasmus, Temple Beth Or, Temple Emanuel of Pascack Valley, Temple Emeth, Glen Rock Jewish Center, Temple Israel, Temple Beth Shalom, Fair Lawn Jewish Center, and Congregation B’nai Israel.)
The mission of the Kehillah Partnership is to build a stronger and more engaged Jewish community across institutional and denominational lines. Since the mission of JChoice.org is also to help build a stronger and more engaged Jewish community, a relationship between us seemed perfect. A couple of times a year, the Kehillah partnership brings together the 7th graders from all 10 congregations and they get to learn from each other, meet each other, and come together to help a needy cause. For their first meeting of 2010, we at JChoice.org were invited to talk to the 7th graders who were meeting to help pack bags of food for needy Israelis.
As the 7th graders begin to filter in, we could tell their energy level was low. It was early, it was like Sunday School, and they all wondered who were these three guys (Joshua Troderman, Dave Rizzotto, and me) who were going to talk to them. Knowing that 7th graders can be rough crowd, we went for enthusiasm. These young adults were there to help a needy cause and we were going to show them how they could help even more.
With free $18 gift cards in tow we spent the first 30 minutes talking with them about Mitzvah, and specifically the mitzvah of Tzedakah. Armed with questions from Danny Siegel’s Who-Me-Yes-You: To Help You Decide Where, When, Why, and How You Can Do Your Best Tikkun Olam, we lead these 7th graders on a journey of discovery, showing them that one can take what they love to do and what they are good at and turn that into mitzvot. Slowly but surely, the 7th graders became more engaged and excited to hear what we had to say.
After a break where they helped pack bags for Israel, we returned to talk about how what we taught them in the first half connected to JChoice.org. On JChoice.org the choice of how to help and who to help is theirs, they get to search for causes; they decide whether to give or to volunteer.
We ended with a demonstration of our website and the attentive eyes of all the participants. We were happy to begin collaborating with the Kehillah Partnership and were happy that by the end of presentation we left those 7th graders excited about what each one of them can accomplish.