Mitzvah Mania, a program of JTEENGMW, allows teens 12+ to engage in up to ten days of service projects with incorporated Jewish learning. Participating teens could sign up for as many or as few as they liked. All events linked the service activity to meaningful discussions of Jewish history, tradition, contemporary culture, and text.
Projects took place all over Greater MetroWest to ensure that there were convenient offerings for as many teens as possible. Service events included hands-on environmental restoration and construction projects, providing nutrition for families in need, and intergenerational and special needs inclusive activities. Our most populated project (22 teens) was a trip to the Museum of Jewish Heritage in Battery Park to see the new Auschwitz exhibit. Along the way the teens heard from two survivors and then visited the 9/11 Memorial where they heard from a family member of a 9/11 victim (and a descendant of Holocaust survivors).
Other offerings included preparing and serving dinner to clients of Homeless Solutions in Morristown, picking produce at the community garden and working in the food pantry at JFS Central, and doing tough manual labor with Habitat for Humanity to build apartments for low income families in Succasunna. Throughout these projects, true inclusion and community empowerment was strongly promoted – residents of senior centers and residents of the WAE Center were invited to join the teens to perform service for the community together.
This year, 76 teens participated in Summer Mitzvah Mania and 17 of them qualified as Mitzvah Maniacs for participating in three or more service events. A number of dedicated teen leaders assisted with all Mitzvah Mania projects. Volunteers from Iris Teen Mitzvot helped lead at least two service events each, to prepare for Jewish service-learning events they will plan in the spring. And members of the JTEENGMW Justice League, who are committed to a year-long term of service, outreach, Jewish learning, and leadership, were a huge help.
For more information about Mitzvah Mania and other JTEEN Jewish service-learning opportunities visit www.jteengmw.org.