Kudos to Kulanu’s Youth!

One of the greatest pleasures in my work for Kulanu in recent years has been working with young people—bar and bat mitzvah candidates, high school students and college Hillel groups—who have elected to do a special fundraising mitzvah project.

Now, I am delighted to announce several new youth initiatives and developments.

We are in the process of creating a working group of Jewish educators, clergy, parents, and youth leaders to advise us on the development and distribution of materials related to our mitzvah project program; to help us locate, evaluate, and develop resources for schools, camps, youth groups and individuals; to help us plan outreach to these groups; and to advise us on development of web-based information useful to these groups.

In recent months, we’ve received requests from families, camps, and schools for materials they can use to teach about Jewish diversity. We want to continue to improve and enrich our responses to these requests, whether these take the form of developing appropriate materials or identifying the best resources available.

In recent months, there have been some great and exciting stories shared by our volunteers.

One of my favorites came from Temple Beth Avodah in Newton, MA. Their rabbi/educator dresses up as “Ofra Winberg” and does a talk show with the students talking about Jewish values and Jewish heroes. This year, their focus is on Jewish communities around the world and so Ofra is “traveling” the world, visiting different communities and sending letters, videos and audio tapes back to the students. When she “visits” the Abayudaya, she will be using Kulanu materials to educate her students.

Another favorite: the older campers at Camp Herzl in Wisconsin organized a fundraising walk, which they called Holchim L’Chaim, “We Walk for Life.” The campers selected three organizations to benefit including Kulanu. Around the track, they had “fact signs” that educated the campers about the work of the three organizations.

High school students at Temple Beth-El in Ithaca, NY, have held concerts and sold CDs of their music to raise money for the Abayudaya health fund.

After 8th grade students at The Leo Baeck Day School in Toronto studied the Abayudaya as part of their curriculum on Jewish diversity, they all bought Abayudaya kippot to wear at their graduation ceremonies.

Bar and bat mitzvah candidates around the country have raised thousands of dollars to support Kulanu programs by asking their friends and family to send donations in their honor. Some students have sold items, including Mirembe Kawomera coffee. See Juliana Moskowitz’s article about her project on page “A Bat Mitzvah Project about Coffee.”

I could go on and on. Each story and each opportunity to encourage young people, to paraphrase Gandhi, “to be the change they want to see in the world,” is wonderful. Hearing and reading the excitement in the kids’ voices, as they begin to realize their own power to change the world is heartwarming. Supporting these efforts will be an important part of Kulanu’s program in the coming months.

Interested in helping with this effort? Would you like to serve on our Youth Participation workgroup? Please contact Harriet Bograd, telling me about your interests and skills. Feel free to attach a resume or CV, if you wish.