What do Heritage Pointe, Jewish World Watch and the International Princess Project have in common? They were all designated to receive a cash donation by the high school students in the Young Philanthropists program, run by the Bureau of Jewish Education in partnership with the Jewish Community Foundation of Orange County.
This exceptionally successful program, which recently concluded its 2010 workshop series, teaches teens, through hands-on experience, the core principles of tzedekah – the Jewish obligation to share our bounties with the less fortunate members of society.
Text study provides the foundation for Young Philanthropists. Students learn that tzedekah is not a choice, but rather a religious duty, an act of righteousness. They are taught to understand that donating to the needy is a way they can provide service to the world community. They also discover that our obligation to give extends to both Jews and non-Jews who are struggling.
Selected agencies were invited to apply for funds and make presentations. Those enrolled in the program had discussions about what needs in the world community are the most important, which organizations have an impact on the greatest number of beneficiaries and which are most dependent on individual donors to achieve their goals.
Students made site visits to a number of the organizations, and had representatives of others bring presentations to them. Families Forward was one of the recipients of a grant from the Young Philanthropists after a site visit. One student wrote to the agency, “Thank you for helping families start a new chapter in their lives.”
Students talked about the diversity of the people who were being helped. Of Mazon, one student commented “It’s very important to me that Mazon has such a broad influence across the United States and internationally.”
Then the students partnered in deciding which organizations would receive funding and how much of the $5,000 total available grant money would be allocated to each. Ultimately, they wrestled with the criteria, passionately shared their feelings with one another and came to a consensus.
The International Princess Project, which advocates for women enslaved in prostitution, helping them restore their lives and their freedom, touched many of the students. One wrote, “Thank you so much for helping these women who would not get help otherwise. Your organization is truly making a difference in the world, and I feel that whatever (money) you receive will really do good. My life was changed.”
Chai Lifeline and the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee were also among the recipients of grant money from the Young Philanthropists, a group of Jewish teenagers who learned how to put their money to good use, and speak for the rights of those who are often powerless to speak for themselves.
February 5, 2011
A community-wide youth group event for 6-8th graders, with
- Live Music
- Games and Activities
At Temple Beth Sholom
in Santa Ana
Contact Jeff at the
Bureau of Jewish Education
for details and to
reserve your spot!