Jewish teens continued to prove that the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic is no barrier to making a difference in the community.
On Nov. 21, over 40 teens gathered at Temple Emanu-El in Marblehead for the “For Goodness Bake Teen Service Event,” a new rendition of the North Shore’s annual Soup-er Sunday. This Temple Emanu-El service event was powered by the Jewish Teen Initiative at Combined Jewish Philanthropies and in partnership with the Lappin Foundation.
Four of the JTI Peer Leadership fellows banded together to arrange the “For Goodness Bake.” Inspired by last year’s teen-organized virtual Soup-er Sunday, also held in partnership with Temple Emanu-El, the teen leaders were excited to offer an opportunity for their peers to connect and volunteer in person.
Josh Comito of Peabody, Aidan New of Marblehead, Lucy New of Marblehead, and Sofia Vatnik of Marblehead made up this group of ambitious event organizers. Comito is a senior at St. John’s Preparatory School in Danvers and the remaining three leaders are all seniors at Marblehead High School.
Following the 13-year-long tradition of gathering North Shore teens on the Sunday prior to Thanksgiving, the teen leaders designed an afternoon that included baking apple pies to spread light to others and connecting to Jewish values around supporting all members of the community.
The social hall at Temple Emanu-El was quickly filled with energy and enthusiasm as members of the North Shore BBYO chapter arrived early to prepare the space. Ellie Levine, president of North Shore BBYO and JTI Peer Leadership fellow, was thrilled to involve her chapter in the “For Goodness Bake.” The Swampscott High School sophomore says she’s “always loved participating in Soup-er Sunday, so being a part of the group this year was a no-brainer.”
Pie-making stations were led and organized by teen leaders, working together toward the goal of producing 100 apple pies. Benjy Wolf-Wagner, a senior at Framingham High School and JTI Peer Leadership fellow, traveled all the way from the Metro West to lead a group of bakers. Wolf-Wagner said “every finished pie [he] added to the tray made [him] feel like [he] was really making someone’s day a little better, and [he’s] really glad that [he] was able to come and participate.”
Over two hours of pie-making later, the teens surpassed their goal when they completed 110 delectable pies. Each pie was an individual masterpiece as they were ornamented uniquely by the teens. The apple pies were delivered by volunteers to Lifebridge in Salem, Jack Satter House in Revere, and My Brother’s Table in Lynn. Two remaining bushels of apples were donated to the Salvation Army in Salem.
In addition to pie-making, the teens created 77 cards for children with cancer at Boston Children’s Hospital that will be included in care packages from North Shore BBYO. Everyone left the event feeling fulfilled and proud of their efforts. As Levine put it, “It’s always amazing to serve the community with your best friends.”
The four teen leaders were amazed by the outcome of the event.
“Playing a pivotal role in such an important initiative showed me the true strength of our local Jewish teen community,” said Aidan New. “That Sunday afternoon not only made me proud of everything that we accomplished, but made me excited to see how teens can grow and develop this event to greater heights in future years.”
The effort was aided by donations from Whole Foods, Stop & Shop, and Wegmans – along with a visit from the Cookie Monstah food truck and station-leader shirts from The Marblehead Sports Shop.
“I’m so lucky to be part of a community that makes giving back so easy,” said Vatnik, who is looking forward to leading more service programs with her coleaders.
“Jewish Teen Initiative at CJP is proud to help empower teens and partner organizations to spread light throughout our community,” said Brett Lubarsky, director of the Jewish Teen Initiative program at CJP. “Their creativity, resiliency, and collaborative spirit have inspired teens throughout Greater Boston to find new and powerful ways to make a difference.”