This Fall, members of BBYO, Inc., the world’s leading pluralistic Jewish teen movement donated $52,000 to the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (JDC). Raised by students motivated exclusively by their desire to make a difference in the lives of those-in-need, the funds went primarily to JDC’s AMEN initiative—a program that engages Israeli teens in volunteer service.
While BBYO teens have been dedicated to philanthropy for decades, they were particularly compelled by the plight of Israelis affected by the Lebanon War last summer. The funds raised by BBYO for its 2006-2007 Schusterman International Service Fund supported rebuilding efforts in Northern Israel.
“The amount BBYO raised is remarkable in and of itself, but is even more inspiring to know that it was accomplished by youth who dedicated themselves throughout the year. The donation will make a huge impact on vulnerable populations in Israel,” said Abby Pitkowsky, the Director of Jewish Education and Global Programs for JDC.
The funds, raised over the past year by thousands of students nationwide far exceeded the students’ initial goal. Teens organized bake sales, dance-a-thons, car washes, and other projects like “Up All Night for Israel,” in Charlotte, North Carolina, which featured guest speakers from Israel and booths focused on various aspects of Israeli culture and history. The event drew over 100 teens and raised $10,000 for the JDCIsrael Emergency Fund.
“BBYO students clearly grasped the ‘Jewish way’ of responding immediately to urgent needs. We’re proud of these students and deeply thankful for the contribution,” said Pitkowsky.
With this donation, BBYO has also renewed JDC as the recipient organization of its social justice efforts—an expression of tikkun olam, the Jewish principle of “healing the world.” As part of this partnership, monies raised in the coming academic year will be applied to another realm of JDC projects yet to be determined, such as initiatives with destitute elderly Jews in the former Soviet Union or JDC’s Children’s Initiative, which provides a range of services to children in need in Europe and the former Soviet Union.
“Core to BBYO’s mission is creating a new generation of leaders who are prepared to take responsibility for helping Jews in need throughout the world,” said Matthew Grossman, BBYO’s Executive Director. “BBYO’s support of the JDC shows that our teens are ready and willing to take on this sacred assignment.”