by Chagit Bender, Grade 11, JUMP Team HA Member

For the first year ever, Hebrew Academy has entered its very own NCSY JUMP team to participate in a six- month leadership development program. The team is led by HA Dean of Jewish Life and Director of Judaic Studies Rabbi Eddie Shostak and NCSY advisor and HA alum, Danielle Rohr (‘14). Student participants include: Sarah Azoulay (11), Chagit Bender (11), Rebecca Cohen (10), Talia Dayan (11), Maayan Levy (11), Eva Mamane (9), Marcus Rehany (10), Arielle Rohr (11) and Jacob Silverman (9).

JUMP (Jewish Unity Mentoring Program) challenges teens to think outside the box in creating successful projects relating to specific themes that change from year to year.  This year, teams will choose two out of three challenges related to either Outreach, Tefila or Synagogue engagement.

Last week Team HA traveled to Tarrytown, New York to join 17 other schools from across North America to learn many new skills required to become successful Jewish entrepreneurs and community leaders.

The conference encouraged students to leave their comfort zones through inspiring speakers and engaging workshops.

The students were first thrust into an exciting team-building activity focused on cooperation and strategic thinking to get the job done. They were then introduced to the first of their three challenges.The Kiruv Challenge was presented by Rabbi Benzion Klatzko, a kiruv expert and founder of This challenge taught the students methods they could use to reach out to fellow Jews in order to enhance their Jewish connection. Executive Vice President of the OU Allen Fagin moderated a panel of experts who presented the Synagogue Challenge. Students explored the different elements required for synagogues to run successfully. The final challenge, the Tefila Challenge, was presented by Rabbi Dovid Bashevkin, NCSY International HQ director of education. Rabbi Bashevkin explored issues surrounding prayer, including difficulties and challenges and potential opportunities.

In between these presentations, students interacted with other teams through different sessions, including a treasure hunt across the hotel grounds and really great interactive learning sessions.  This was a great opportunity make lots of new friends.

The team really enjoyed the conference and are looking forward to taking on our challenges through creative and innovative projects that will benefit our school community. Keep your eyes peeled to see what Team HA has in store!

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