Jewish Tribune
Thursday, April 10, 2008

Toronto teens give back as part of North American initiative

BY STUART NULMAN

TORONTO – More than 150 Jewish teens from Toronto will join together with Jewish youth from across North America in a day of community service this coming Sunday so that they can give back some Tikkum Olam to their community at the fourth annual Tikkun Toronto.

“Tikkun Toronto is an amazing opportunity for teens to feel the power of unity,” said Missy Korn, program director for B’nai Brith Youth Organization (BBYO). “When they participate in this event, they know that they are one of thousands of Jewish teens who are simultaneously participating in acts of Tikkun Olam across North America. The goal of Tikkun Toronto is to instill in these Jewish teens a love for giving back, with the hopes that they will continue to do so as they become adult members of the community.”

Organized as a part of J-Serve, and subtitled “Jewish youth repairing the world one day at a time,” Tikkun Toronto is funded by UJA and Mercaz, with a planning committee consisting of members from the following local youth groups: BBYO, Canadian Youth Judea, USY, Bnei Akiva and Darchei Noam.

The day begins at Noon with registration and orientation at Beth Radom Congregation, 18 Reiner Rd. Between 1 p.m. and 5 p.m., participants from grades 8 through 12 will have the choice of getting involved in any of 14 community service initiatives, ranging from a ceramics and ice cream social at the Extendicare seniors residence and aiding the National Council of Jewish Women with their annual Passover Food Drive to preparation work for the Walk for Israel, to setting up for the Global Day for Darfur rally, to participating at a Passover celebration at the Cummer Lodge Nursing Home.

Youngsters in grades 5 to 7 will get to take part in community initiatives developed especially for their age group, such as learning about how they can help the environment and tie-dying pillow cases that will later be donated to charity.

Oren Epstein has participated in Tikkun Toronto and enjoys the fact that being part of the activities it offers benefits both himself and the community at large. “Tikkun Toronto is a wonderful experience,” he told the Jewish Tribune. “It is something I really believe in. Not only does this year’s events help people in the community, but it also helps those in need internationally, such as in Darfur. It’s great to see other kids participating and helping out with such a worthy cause.”

Danny Richmond, an activist for Canadian Youth Judea, sees Tikkun Toronto as a way of uniting people under a common belief in social justice.

“You cannot just teach social justice to youth, they need to experience it – see it, hear it, live it. Tikkun Toronto is about youth coming together and finding out what Tikkun Olam is about,” he said. “This event is so popular because Jewish youth want ownership in their community – they want to take a part in repairing it.”

And the youth are not the only ones who benefit greatly from this day of giving back.

“Tikkun teen volunteers bring positive youthful energy to our seniors,” said Penny Edwards, Jewish programmer at Extendicare Bayview. “We are blessed to have these kind and compassionate teens be part of this intergenerational program. Our seniors always leave the activity with smiles on their faces.”

Any teen interested in participating in this year’s Tikkun Toronto is encouraged to register online at the event’s web site, www.tikkuntoronto.org. Also, adult volunteers are needed and can register at the web site, which also includes a schedule of events and the complete list of the volunteer opportunities that are available that day.