The setting was a Manhattan law firm boardroom, everyone wore their best suits, and a Trump helped decide the outcome. But the six Rambam Mesivta students were not seeking to become apprentices, they were judged for their leadership.
Now in its fifth year, JUMP- the Jewish Unity Mentoring Program, led by Rabbi Aryeh Lightstone, seeks to encourage students in Jewish high schools to cultivate their leadership skills through community building activities. Past examples include trips to hurricane-damaged New Orleans; and Berlin, Germany, where there is a growing but largely unaffiliated Jewish community.
“NCSY is moving towards a stronger leadership model for day school teens and this program is the culmination of that effort,” NCSY International Director Rabbi Steven Burg said.
This year, some 120 students from 10 schools participated, including HANC and Rambam. The winning team’s leadership portfolio promoted strong support for Israel, alongside local education efforts. The Rambam team comprised of students Azariah Hacohen, Didi Levy, Evan Linder, Jared Ehrenreich, Moshe Fink, and Dani Edelman.
“This year, the Rambam students went above and beyond the call of duty to organize a chessed trip to Israel; create a learning program with OHEL participants; and fundraise for Israeli soldiers in need of winter gear and equipment,” OU Executive Director Rabbi Steven Weil said. “Short of making aliyah and serving in the IDF, there is not much more they could have done for Israel.”
An example of pro-Israel advocacy was the HANC team’s creation of a pro-Israel website, advocate4israel.org, which serves as a one-stop shop for supports of Israel. “Through this website future Israel advocates can learn about Israel, sign petitions in support of Israel, and send letters to their senators, in addition to many more ways to advocate for Israel,” said Max Kahn, a ninth grader who serves as the website’s director. This specific challenge brought my love for Israel to new levels. Even though Jump may be over, our website continues to live on.”