NOVEMBER 22, 2018, MARBLEHEAD – The aroma of freshly baked apple pie, soup and lasagna filled the Jewish Community Center in Marblehead this past Sunday as 91 teenagers and 25 adults volunteered on Soup-er Sunday, an event that provides a Sunday meal for the Lynn Emergency Shelter. The North Shore teens – who range from 13 to 18 – are members of the Jewish Teen Initiative (JTI), which helped make and deliver 50 pies, four soup pots and 51 lasagnas to the homeless.
“It’s really great knowing that we are helping others make food for them, while we are also having fun and meeting new kids,” said Gillian Jacobs, 13, of Swampscott.
“This is my second year doing Soup-er Sunday,” added Libby Rosen, 15, of Marblehead, a teen leader in charge of making lasagna. She also worked with volunteers from Yachad, the national Jewish Council on Disabilities. “This kind of event brings us all together to help those who are less fortunate and to not only connect to our Jewish traditions but also to make new friends. This is my second year as a peer leader here and it is the first time I have been working with folks from Yachad which has been great.”
Yachad, the National Jewish Council for Disabilities, infuses a sense of inclusion in the community, according to Bonnie Weiss of Yachad. “Helping to cook and prepare food here today with other groups is a great way to do that,” she said.
Soup-er Sunday, now in its 10th year, has become one of the largest youth events organized by the JTI, according to its founder Adam Smith.
“There are two important events that have become very popular for JTI teens,” Smith said. “One of those events is Soup-er Sunday just before Thanksgiving and the second is Mitzvah Day in the spring. We basically bookend each year with these days of service which give us an opportunity to not only be more involved but to motivate a connection to things that are real, like homelessness. We see a lot of value in this and kids and adult volunteers really do show up when there is value to it.”
While the pies were being prepared by the teens, others were making boxes to put them in. Standing by was Eva Goldstein, of the Lynn Shelter Association who planned to deliver the food for Sunday’s dinner. Goldstein is a Bates College graduate who enrolled in a state-funded year of service at the Lynn Shelter Association through the Commonwealth Corps, whose goal is to rebuild communities, address unmet community needs, and increase volunteerism.
“It is so important and great to see these teens get outside themselves and do this kind of volunteer work,” Goldstein said. “We will deliver this food tonight to the direct care workers who serve it right up so that is pretty great.”
Also on Sunday, a parallel program for elementary and middle school students also took place at Temple Emanu El in Marblehead, where the youth prepared food for My Brother’s Table. The event was supported by many organizations including the Lappin Foundation, Pediatric Healthcare Associates, Leslie and Bob Ogan and Shubie’s Marketplace.
“Our Jewish traditions teach us that we are not commanded to finish the work but we must contribute,” said Brett Lubarsky, associate director of JTI. “With so much darkness in the world today, these teens are helping to spread light throughout our community for those in need and are leading by example.”