NOVEMBER 30, 2017 – Not all superheroes wear capes. In fact, some wear aprons.
That was the case when 120 North Shore teens spent a recent Sunday whipping up more than 50 lasagnas, 40 apple pies, four giant vats of white bean and kale soup, and brownies. The food was delivered to hungry families at the Lynn Shelter Association and My Brother’s Table, both in Lynn.
The annual Soup-er Sunday event is organized by Jewish Teen Initiative Boston, a nonprofit based in Marblehead that connects Jewish teens to each other and Jewish programming.
‘I’m always amazed at the number of teens who are willing to give so generously of their time and energy on a Sunday afternoon in November,” said JTI Boston director Adam Smith. “This event reminds us to think about people in our extended circles and broader community who are in need.”
JTI launched its first Soup-er Sunday in 2009 with just 24 volunteers. This year’s event was its biggest ever. In fact, organizers had to split volunteers between two Marblehead sites; third- through seventh-graders worked at Temple Emanu-El, while eighth- to 12th-graders cooked at the JCC of the North Shore.
“I love the feeling of helping others while connecting with Jewish teens in our community,” said Maya Goldman, a Marblehead High School senior. “It feels amazing knowing that I was able to help others by providing meals to hungry and needy families in our community.”
Rebecca Dunn, of Peabody, has volunteered at Soup-er Sunday for three years. “I enjoy it more every time I go,” she said. “Giving back to the community is always a rewarding experience.”
Hannah Zimmerman, of Peabody said, “I want to give back to others because I have been so fortunate. Making food inspired me to keep helping others on a regular basis. It also allowed me to meet many new people who share my values.”
The kids’ efforts have a big impact, according to Samantha Wheeler at the Lynn Shelter Association.
“Our families are connecting with each other over homemade lasagna and delicious apple pie,” Wheeler said. “The teens are helping to foster that and create community for the people we serve.
“Without the support of the Jewish Teen Initiative, we wouldn’t be able to do it. We really appreciate their support and dedication.”
Soup-er Sunday isn’t a one-time mitzvah for JTI, but part of a year-round focus on community service and social justice. In February, teens will head to North Carolina to build homes with Habitat for Humanity and in June, they’ll travel to New Orleans to help rebuild hurricane-ravaged neighborhoods.
JTI participants also can meet weekly and volunteer with inner-city kids at elementary schools and homeless shelters. In the spring, JTI sponsors J-Serve, a day when teens volunteer cleaning, painting, and gardening at sites in Lynn.
Social justice is also a key component at JTI. In March, teens will travel to Washington, D.C., where they’ll lobby lawmakers on important and timely issues.
“They’re able to turn their passions into action, roll up their sleeves, and help make our world a better place,” said Brett Lubarsky, JTI associate director.
To learn more about JTI Boston, its programming, and its recent expansion into Metrowest, visit jewishteeninitiative.org.