On Sunday, April 17, 2016 over 500 teens gathered in Toronto to participate in community-wide Tikkun Olam projects through J-SERVE, a global day of service with projects happening in over 100 communities around the world. In celebration of this incredible day, UJA’s Teen Initiatives joined forces to create a service project focusing on supporting seniors living in isolation. Together, over 40 teens from UJA’s B’nai Tzedek Teen Philanthropy, Diller Teen Fellows, and Jewish Teen Board organized a mock seder for seniors involved in the Bernard Betel Centre’s Health at Home program and Circle of Care’s Association for Jewish Seniors. The goal of the seder was to provide a meaningful Passover experience to a group of seniors for whom getting to a seder during Passover could be challenging.
In addition to the traditional seder prayers, the program focused on the values of community and connection. The seder content was planned and implemented by four alumni of Diller and B’nai Tzedek - Jordan Pike, Aaron Ambrose, Samara Bell, Josh Saltzman, and Sivan Piatigorsky-Roth. Throughout the seder, the seniors and teens conversed about their Passover experiences growing up, traditions, family, and community. Guests were invited to share prayers and sing songs in their family’s traditional tunes. Spirits in the room were high throughout the program. Grade 11 student Jordan Pike, was thrilled to be part of planning this experience, “it was so meaningful to be able to celebrate the tradition of Passover with seniors.” He added, “I was able to get to know their stories and what Passover means to them, and that connection was truly incredible.” Guests left with a copy of an abbreviated Haggadah and Seder plates to support their Passover needs.
This program was the third in a series of collaborative service programs between UJA’s Teen Initiatives. These teen leaders are aware of the lengths that UJA’s community support stretches, and are equipped with the skills and drive to take action and support those in need in meaningful ways. The Passover Mock Seder is a testament to the power that teens have to make the world a better place, and this is just the beginning of a long journey of community collaboration and support.