For the 11th straight year, volunteers from the Jewish Teen Initiative of Greater Boston gathered at the JCCNS in Marblehead on the Sunday before Thanksgiving to prepare and deliver meals to shelters through the Lynn Shelter Association.
“I remember the first Soup-er Sunday, which grew out of an idea to engage teens while their parents were participating in the Federation Super Sunday Fundraising event,” said Gayle Rubin, co-chair of the JTI Board of Directors.
“To see how the program has grown in every dimension over the past decade is overwhelming and a testament to the goodwill of this community.”
Michele Cohen, also a co-chair of the JTI Board of Directors, added, “This is a dynamic event and every year we try to add things that make the day run smoothly and ultimately improve what we can provide for the individuals living at the shelters.”
Some of the more meaningful additions over the past few years include the addition of Stars of Hope; decorating pie boxes, in which pies are donated to shelters; and partnering with Temple Emanu-El of Marblehead on the Mitzvah Lounge, where children in grades 3-7 come together to make baked goods to donate to My Brother’s Table.
As the program has grown, JTI has been fortunate to receive substantial sponsorships from local business and community leaders, including the Castraberti family of Prince Pizzeria on Route 1 in Saugus, Shubie’s Marketplace in Marblehead, Brooksby Farm in Peabody, and Leslie and Bob Ogan. Steve Castraberti, who has donated the sauce and cheese for the event for the past few years, commented, “So many people ask me to donate to causes. All of them provide some kind of service to people. I was immediately impressed and taken by the way your team is so hands-on. What the kids do is a lot of work!”
This was the first Soup-er Sunday for Dana Roth, JTI’s new Senior Program Director. “Soup-er Sunday has always been a fantastic way for Jewish teen and adult volunteers to live our Jewish values in a concrete way, by working together on tikkun olam (repairing the world) projects that enable us to serve those in need of our assistance,” Roth said. “In my first year at JTI, I was thrilled to see all of our volunteers’ dedication come to fruition to benefit the Lynn Shelter Association. This year we had 96 teen and adult volunteers from 14 North Shore communities. We also had participants from partner agencies including CJP’s North Shore women’s philanthropy group and Yachad.”
Perhaps most significantly is hearing teen perspectives on the day’s events. JTI Peer Leadership Fellow Lucy New remarked, “I am here to give back to my community because I am thankful for the food that I enjoy on Thanksgiving with my family, and I hope to give more people that experience.”
Aviva Bornstein noted, “it feels good to help others,” while Molly Claire Dormer added that the event “impacts everyone involved.”
Yachad Participant Jacob Yellin summed up the day when he said, “I like to give back because it’s fun!”
“The teen and adult volunteers who put on their aprons and make Soup-er Sunday happen are carrying forward our tradition, l’dor v’dor – from generation to generation,” said Brett Lubarsky, JTI’s Associate Director. “We are taught to love the stranger as we love ourselves, and to all who are hungry, come and eat,” Lubarsky said. “Jewish Teen Initiative, along with our incredible communal partners and passionate volunteers, connects Jewish tradition with innovative and engaging community-building opportunities as we come together and help make our world a better place.”
With Soup-er Sunday in the rear-view mirror, JTI has several events coming up in the next couple of months, including an overnight ski trip to Loon Mountain on January 11-12 and the MetroWest Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service on January 20, in Wayland, Mass. JTI Boston will cap off its winter programming by traveling to Washington, D.C. for the RAC’s L’Taken Social Justice Seminar, February 21-24.
For more information on upcoming JTI programs or to get involved, please visit jtiboston.org or email firstname.lastname@example.org. For information about teen programming across the Greater Boston area, please visit JewishBostonTeens.com.