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C*A*N TEEN BLOG “Community • Action • Networking ”

How AJSS Prepared Me for College

Written by: Lindsey Johnson
AJSS Participant 2013-2014

I chose to attend a 25 Days of Change trip to Portland, Oregon the summer of 2013 to have something unique to add on my college applications. When I say “I chose”, I really mean that my mom sat me down and said that I needed to do something more productive than another summer at sleep away camp. What I did not realize at that time, being a rising high school junior, was that AJSS would not only be an experience I could talk about while applying to schools, but that it would also help better prepare me for my college experience. I had such an amazing experience on that Portland trip that the next summer I participated in the 6 Weeks of Impact trip to Memphis, Tennessee, where I once again made some incredible memories and learned some valuable lessons for what college would bring. ...

A Taste of Torah: An Oath to Serve

Written By:
Rafi Glazer, Director of Programs
Friday, August 5, 2016

This is the final weekend that AJSS will be in the field, changing lives, and coincidentally, the final Torah portion in the book of Numbers, Matot-Masaei, which describes the Israelites’ 40-year journey in the desert. Next week begins the book of Deuteronomy, which is primarily a retelling of the Israelites’ journey. This portion begins with a message from Moses to the Israelites: If you make an oath, either to God or to another person, you are required to follow it through. It seems like a simple enough lesson, yet shortly afterwards it is put into question.  While most of the tribes are preparing to enter the Promised Land, two tribes, despite their oath, wish to stay.  Ultimately the tribes agree to conquer this fertile land for the rest of the Israelites and later return to their own land.  The tribes are keeping their original oath to focus on the community’s needs over the desires of individual tribes. The overarching goal is more important than personal needs. In the same way, our AJSS participants are coming to the end of a complex journey, albeit one that is shorter than 40 years.  Each of our JAMmers signed into a covenant (literally and figuratively) to work towards creating meaningful change. We hope that, whether by oath or interest, our participants continue to use their hands and their hearts to continue what they have started in Colorado Springs. We hope that over the next 40 years (and beyond) our AJSS alumni are similarly fulfilled as they continue their journey to their own Promised Land. Shabbat Shalom.

Seeing the Glass Half Full

Written By:
Graham | Mendham, NJ
JAM: Colorado Springs

The evening started out like any other: the group was excited to go play mini golf and have fun after a hard day’s work. So we get to the mini golf place, get our clubs and balls and split up into groups of four. I was in a group with two other participants and one staff member. Everything was going great; I got a few 2’s, 3’s, and 4’s. Then came Hole 9. I hit the ball with such finesse that the ball curved into the hole on the first putt. I dropped my club and started screaming, “I GOT A HOLE IN ONE! I GOT A HOLE IN ONE! AHHHHH! AHHHHH!” I ran around jumping up and down and making a scene. I even high-fived a random family. Fast forward to the end of the course where I was bragging about my hole in one. I was jumping up and down, while people in the group were trying not to be seen with me. I asked one of the staff if I could tell the other participants from the group that I got a hole in one, and she said yes. As I was walking down the steps, I missed one. ...

A Taste of Torah: Every Person Counts

Written By:
Rafi Glazer, Director of Programs
Dani Greenwald, Program Associate
Friday, July 29, 2016

“Don’t Boo. Vote” These words were spoken on Wednesday night by President Obama in his speech to the DNC. Regardless of how you feel about the President’s politics, or the 2016 campaign, this simple idea is an important one. We live in a society where standing up and being part of the community is not just a privilege, but a requirement. As we get closer to what looks like the most contentious election in recent history, standing up to express what you believe in is an important aspect of who we are as individuals, as United States citizens, and as Jews. And we hear that lesson reverberate in this week’s Torah portion. ...

Never Have I Ever

Written By:
Adele | Topanga, CA
Stacy | Randolph, NJ
JAM: Colorado Springs 2016

Today is our 4th service day of AJSS. This trip has provided so many firsts for us. We have noticed many of us have stepped out of our comfort zones and tackled challenges we never thought possible. Beginning on the first day, when we all arrived in our home, Temple Shalom, the fourteen of us instantly clicked. Many of us had never had the experience of meeting new people and feeling so comfortable. There was no need for icebreakers or awkwardness. We quickly opened up to each other. What made this so possible was realizing that we were all like-minded teenagers, wishing to make a difference in the world. Meeting each other in such a positive way set the mood for the days that followed. ...