My biggest regret as Young Judaean is not attending Alternative Winter Break when I was in Young Judaea. However, being able to see the work our teens are doing this week surely makes up for it. On the second full day of our program the teens split up to head to different volunteer opportunities. Our first group went to East Cooper Community outreach where they spent their time sorting clothing, shoes, and other supplies for those in need. Our second group landed at Eagle Harbor Ranch where they had the opportunity to work with kids who come from backgrounds where they were either orphaned, abused, and/or abandoned. Last but not least our third group went to The Sherman house, which is assisted independent living for the elderly community run by the Jewish Federation of Charleston. There they spent their time with residents helping them clean their apartments. While our options all seem very different all of our teens spent their days in some ways helping others who might not be able to help themselves.
Our second half of the day was just as if not more emotionally intense. Following our morning activities, our participants had the chance to explore the history of slavery at Mcleod Plantation. Paul, our tour guide, did a wonderful job of leading an insightful discussion of how the affects of slavery are still seen today and why things have and haven’t changed. The night continued with a activity run by an organization called the Transformative Teaching Collective. The two hours were spent discussing how our different social identities are perceived by ourselves and others and the role that race plays in our personal lives. On a personal level, as a Jewish educator who grew up in South Carolina, it is really inspiring to see our teens spending their time helping others and tackling incredibly difficult issues.
Nathan is Young Judaea’s Senior Advisor and National Program Coordinator