By: Leelah Paul, JUMP participant
At the end of November, the SKA JUMP team successfully ran its first event of the year. Organized as a component of NCSY, the Jewish Unity Mentoring Program (JUMP) focuses on providing Jewish high school students with leadership skills that will enable them to help create positive changes in their schools and communities. The event began with the SKA JUMP team hosting the Ariel Dance Troupe in Lawrence, New York for Shabbos. The troupe, led by Dora and Masha Litvak, consists of ten Israeli dancers who attend a secular high school in Ariel, Israel. They had recently arrived in the United States to begin their first international dance tour and hoped to raise awareness of both their hometown and Israeli culture at large. The SKA JUMP team reached out to the troupe and offered to host them for what transpired to be a spiritually uplifting Shabbos. The members of the dance troupe had the opportunity to experience their first Shabbos, while enhancing the day for the JUMP team with their enthusiasm and interest. As one of the dancers washed n’tilat yadayim, she exclaimed, “I’ve never felt so connected to G-d. Just saying the Bracha made me feel so close to Him.” The JUMP members remarked that they had come to realize how much they took for granted in their daily lives and how lucky they were to be a part of an orthodox community.
After the inspirational Shabbos, the JUMP team held their first community wide event: Israel Culture Night. This program focused on reaching out to the community and teaching the importance of advocating for Israel while also highlighting its unique culture. The night began with an incredible Israeli cooking demonstration given by professional chef Naomi Nachman of Aussie Gourmet. She delighted the crowd as she demonstrated some well kept secrets for making chumus. After a delicious Israeli meal consisting of falafel and pita donated by Shulas Pizza Store and Israeli salad donated by Qcumbers, those present were fortunate to hear from the vice president of the One Israel Fund, Scott Feldman. Renown as an inspirational speaker, he taught the crowd about the most effective ways to advocate for Israel. Attendees of the event received an informative booklet with 25 commonly asked questions on lobbying for Israel. To end the night, the Ariel Dance Troupe wowed everyone as they performed four expressive dances that told the story of Israeli pioneering and creative spirit. The event was a huge success and the JUMP team looks forward to creating more exciting programs in the near future.