Guest Article

Guest Article

North Shore Teens Dig in to Help

Homeless at Lynn Shelter

By Leigh Blander

More than 85 teenagers from across the North Shore joined forces on a recent Sunday to paint, plant, build and cook at the Lynn Shelter Association.

“It feels good to help homeless families right here on the North Shore because they don’t live too far from us and we are fortunate enough to be able to afford a home and other necessities, like food, but many of these people cannot,” said Mason Quintero, 17, or Marblehead. Quintero helped organize landscaping at the Lynn Shelter Association campus.

The annual day of service, called J-Serve, was organized by Jewish Teen Initiative (formerly North Shore Teen Initiative), a Marblehead-based non-profit. In addition to the teens, more than 25 adults also came out to help.

“This was our most incredible J-Serve yet,” said Jewish Teen Initiative Director Adam Smith. “Our volunteers were excited and motivated and they did a huge amount of work.”

The teens built raised beds for vegetable gardens and filled them, in partnership with The Food Project. They also constructed and installed shelving, built picnic tables, landscaped the parking lot perimeter with more than 50 plants and trees, painted storage crates and created hopscotch boards.

“It felt rewarding to know that I had a positive impact on the families who stay here,” said Jonathan Resnic, 18, of Swampscott, who oversaw the construction of the picnic tables. “I was one of the last people to leave the site. I felt a huge sense of accomplishment.”

Samantha Wheeler with the Lynn Shelter Association says the teens’ work will make a difference.

“They’re giving families an area where they can feel safe, appreciated… where they can sit outside and enjoy themselves,” Wheeler said.

“It’s about community building,” she added, “breaking down barriers between the homeless and people who might not always spend time in downtown Lynn.”

Jewish Teen Initiative has a strong relationship with the Lynn Shelter Association, sending teen volunteers to read to and play with homeless children each week.

For the teens at J-Serve, volunteering is a key component of the Jewish value Tikkun Olam, Hebrew for “Repairing the World.”

“I’ve always been fortunate enough to have had a roof over my head and food to eat, so offering my time and help is the least I can do to help those in need,” said Ariella Nardizzi who lives in Nahant and attends Swampscott High School. She helped organize and paint two hopscotch boards, clean up trash in the parking lot and landscape flower beds.

Gayle Rubin of Swampscott has been involved with J-Serve for seven years and is now Board chair at Jewish Teen Initiative. She looks forward to J-Serve every year.

“Everyone was happy, excited, inspired and ready to work hard to complete their projects. Additionally, this year we fed more than 100 shelter residents and homeless individuals and families walking by. These individuals were in awe that teens were out working to make their space better.

“I returned home absolutely exhausted, yet so energized. There is no way to attend J-Serve and not feel good about yourself, your community, how fortunate we are for what we have and the organization that exists.”

After hours of digging and planting, Quintero was exhausted and had blisters on his hands. But he’s not complaining.

“I’m already looking forward to next year,” he said.

bullet point  Leigh Blander, is a freelance journalist and a North Shore Teen Initiative community partner.

Cross-posted at JewishJournal.orgJewishBoston.comWicked Local

New Orleans Trip

New Orleans Trip

Start your summer by giving back with friends in one of a kind New Orleans. Are you out of school June 18-23? If so…THIS IS YOUR TRIP!!


Graduating Seniors, Independent School Students, YOU!


We’re partnering with TELEM: Jewish Youth Making a Difference Together and heading to New Orleans for an epic week of tikkun olam (repairing our world)! Help rebuild homes damaged by natural disasters by day and head out out on the NOLA town with your friends at night.


Sunday, June 18th – Friday, June 23rd


This trip is being offered in partnership with TELEM, a program of Boston’s JCRC

Doing Good Indeed! J-Serve 2017

Doing Good Indeed! J-Serve 2017

In partnership with BBYO, J-Serve is one of our favorite annual events, bringing more than 100 teen and adult volunteers from throughout the North Shore together to help make our community a better place!

Planting, building, painting, cooking and schlepping…our NSTI fam did an amazing amount of work in just 4 hours, helping to brighten up the neighborhood for our partners at the Lynn Shelter Association. A huge yashar koach (job well done!) and many thanks to everyone who helped to make J-Serve 2017 an incredibly powerful and successful event. If you want to help support this work, or other service programs like it, please consider making a gift to the North Shore Teen Initiative.

Have you checked out the photos yet from #JServe2017? Wow! We’re feeling great about the amazing #TikkunOlam work our community volunteers did at this year’s 8th annual J-Serve!

We Need Your Support!

We Need Your Support!

J-SERVE IS THIS SUNDAY! It’s time to roll up your sleeves, rally your friends and wrap-up April vacation by helping NSTI + BBYO make a difference here on the North Shore @ NSTI’s 8th annual J-Serve!

We have an incredible group of teen and adult leaders working on 9 team Mitzvah projects to help renovate The Lynn Shelter Association’s Main Campus and it all happens on 1 international Jewish day of service! It’s only through our combined planning, volunteerism & financial support that we’re able to accomplish our mission to help “Repair the World”.

J-Serve volunteers are building a better community for us all.

——> gardening and beautifying the grounds
——> painting interior
——> mural painting
——> painting hop scotch & four square boards
——> building picnic tables and benches

Please consider a gift or volunteering to help make this event and others like it possible!

J-Serve is made possible in part by a grant from BBYO.

Happy Passover & A Staff Farewell

Happy Passover & A Staff Farewell

Thank you, Sophie!

As we prepare for the holiday of Passover, we have a great deal to celebrate. It has been an exciting year for NSTI – helping teens turn their passions into action as we traveled to Washington DC, North Carolina and New York; connecting our community in new ways through our Sloane Peer Leadership Fellows program; coming together to help make our world a better place for our Soup-er Sunday and L’Shaper programs and kicking off the year with two fantastic leadership development experiences…the list goes on.

We welcome Spring, a season of renewal, where the seeds we planted months ago begin to bloom and sprout. And with this growth comes change. It is both exciting and bittersweet to share that Sophie Katzman, our Program Manager, will be leaving NSTI.

Over the past two years, we have been blessed to have Sophie share her passions for social justice and youth engagement with our community, and helped our community to grow in new and exciting ways. Sophie has accepted a position with Teach For America, and will be wrapping-up her time with us shortly. She is excited to take what she’s learned with her as she transitions to being an elementary school teacher in southern Massachusetts.

Please join us in thanking Sophie for her dedication and commitment to NSTI, and wishing her the best as she begins her next chapter. Join us on April 23 at J-Serve, where we will take an opportunity to help strengthen our community and honor Sophie.

While we say l’hita’ot (see you later) to Sophie, we are also excited about all that lies ahead for NSTI as we continue to strengthen the relationships we have with our community partners. We are currently exploring many collaborative opportunities – if you know of anyone is interested in helping us change what youth engagement looks like for the Greater Boston Jewish community, please send them our way!

Chag Pesach Sameach – wishing everyone a sweet and happy Passover. Looking forward to seeing you on April 23!

– Adam, Brett, Sarah and the NSTI Team

Guest Article

Guest Article

Jewish Teen Fellowship in Metrowest Region

Applications Now Being Accepted

By Leigh Blander

An innovative and first-of-its-kind peer leadership program for Jewish teenagers is expanding to the Metrowest region, with the goal of keeping more teens engaged in Jewish life through personal networks and one-to-one connections. Limited spaces are available for this unique Fellowship and applications are being accepted now.

The Peer Leadership Fellows program trains Jewish high school students (in grades 10-11) to connect and engage with other teens. The PLF program is based on a successful model created by Hillel International, the largest Jewish campus organization in the world.

Hillel has mobilized college peer interns to professionalize its campus outreach, strengthen student connections, and boost participation. Hillel is partnering with PLF to bring its successful approach to high schoolers for the first time.

“I’m thrilled to be working alongside thoughtful leaders to bring this pilot into the teen space, to expand our reach, and find new pathways to connect with more and more Jewish teens,” said Adam Smith, Executive Director of Jewish Teen Initiative, which oversees the PLF program.

“We want the teens to be our community connectors—reaching out to their marginally- or under-involved peers, building those relationships and connecting them to opportunities which relate to their interests,” said Brett Lubarsky, Associate Director of Jewish Teen Initiative.

The PLF program launched last year on the North Shore, where it has been successful and is gaining momentum nationally, with three other cities looking to adapt the model. The original 14 Fellows say they feel very invested.

“It’s important for us to connect and be the voice of the future,” said Jacob Abisso, a junior at Gann Academy in Waltham. “It has been awesome to be part of something so big and to feel momentum build.”

The Fellows receive a $500 stipend, along with professional training in leadership, communication, and community organizing.

The Fellows have a diverse menu of events and programs to share with their peers. This spring, for example, they can participate at the Brandeis Design Lab where Jewish teens work together to find creative, design, and building skills to solve real problems facing the Jewish community and the world.

Also available—national service and leadership trips to New York City, Washington, D.C., North Carolina and beyond.

Applications for the Peer Leadership Fellows program in Metrowest are being accepted now. To learn more and to apply, visit, email Brett Lubarsky or call 508-399-1836.

bullet point  Leigh Blander, is a freelance journalist and a North Shore Teen Initiative community partner.

Cross-posted at