The 11 Washington State youth who participated in Nesiya’s six-week summer program in Israel are busy finishing up the year of community service that program requires.
Local coordinator Joy Maimon told me that the community service component distinguishes Nesiya from other Israel travel programs for kids.
“Each student works at least two hours a week of community service,” upon returning home, she said, some even racking up 500 hours in a year.
During the six weeks in Israel, American and Israeli teens join together for arts workshops, community service, creative text study and outdoor adventure. Participants are selected from diverse Jewish backgrounds, including secular, Reform, Conservative, and Modern Orthodox.
Nesiya fellow Bryan Solomon says the program “taught me an immeasurable amount about Judaism and Israel, [and] has allowed me to be less judgmental and more confident when dealing with other people and issues at home.”
A senior at Lakeside, Bryan volunteers as a tutor for low-income and immigrant elementary students.
Michelle Auster, a high school senior from Olympia agrees. “Nesiya…exposed me to a broader understanding of Judaism,” she said.
She volunteers at Temple Beth Hatfiloh’s Sunday school.
Parents are equally enthusiastic. Karen Treiger, mom of Shoshanna, a senior at Northwest Yeshiva High School, says her daughter’s “growth as a person was remarkable.” And Karen Friedman, mother of Julia Snyder, an 11th grader at Seattle’s Ingraham High says, “we are thrilled with the community service component” which allows Julia “to learn life skills and give back to the community.”
“We are seeking a group that reflects the diversity of Washington State’s Jewish community,” Joy says of this year’s recruitment efforts. Applicants should be completing 10th through 12th grade.
Last summer’s group was the first from our state, although the Nesiya program is 25 years old (www.nesiya.org). This year the Samis Foundation has renewed a grant that provides each participant with a $7,000 fellowship to defray the cost of the Israel trip, a week-long East Coast retreat and local programs. (There’s still a tuition cost to families.)
The deadline for applications is April 8. For more information contact Joy at firstname.lastname@example.org or 206-760-2774
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Mercer Island’s Terry Azose was installed on the second National Board of Directors for ORT America at the organization’s recent convention in Chicago. Terry began serving on the national board in 2007.
ORT (Organization for Rehabilitation and Training) America supports a global network of schools and high-tech training programs that educate 300,000 students in 63 countries.
The organization is highly dependent on volunteers like Terry, said Shelley B. Fagel, newly installed national ORT president adding that, “Terry’s years of experience in the leadership,…and her unwavering commitment to making the world a better place through education and training, guarantees that she’ll be a valuable addition to my team.”
Terry may be better known locally as the former director of Seattle’s Sephardic Religious School, a post she held for 10 years. She is currently director of human resources for a commercial real estate firm and serves on the scholarship committee of the Jewish Studies Program at the University of Washington.
“There is nothing more important to me than education,” she said.
ORT’s education mission, she added, “is the pathway to hope and enlarges opportunities, helping more children gain a useful education which I believe is the greatest mitzvah of all.”
To learn more about ORT America visit www.ortamerica.org.
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Childcare safety activist Stuart Jacobson has received a Jefferson Award from Seattle City Club. The five local winners will be honored at a breakfast on April 26.
Stu has been an advocate for children in childcare in our state for nearly 19 years. He has worked to mandate education for childcare providers and institute safety standards in childcare facilities, and through his Washington Parents for Safe Childcare organization has helped parents, educators, childcare providers and licensors improve health and safety in childcare in Washington state.
As a result of the efforts of child activists like Stu, our state has an Office of Ombudsman for children and families, a Web site for parents to gather information about licensed childcare providers, a toll-free hotline, STARS (training) program, mandatory liability insurance for family day care providers, criminal background checks for out-of-state applicants for licensed child care, child-use areas tested for soil contaminates, notices to parents regarding licensing actions taken against child care providers, and the Jaclyn Frank Act, a child safety law passed in this state in 1997 that prohibits the use of cords on window coverings in childcare settings.
The Jefferson Awards honor ordinary people who do extraordinary things for others. Founded in 1972 to create a “Nobel Prize” for public service, awards are presented both nationally and locally. There are five Washington state Jefferson Award winners each year. You can learn more about the program and view all the winners at www.JeffersonAwards.org. A list of state nominees is at seattlecityclub.org.
This being the 21st century, no awards process would be complete without some sort of voting. The 2010 Washington State Jefferson Awards winners will be featured on KING-5’s “Evening Magazine” during the week of April 5-9, 2010. Tune in that week. then vote online at KING5.com for the person who will represent this Washington at the national awards ceremony in “the other” Washington in June.