Activ8! is Here to Create Community
by Sharon Solomon, Religious School Director – Youth & Family Engagement
& Ella Bruck, TBS-Religious School Editor Intern
The inspiring, young leaders of Temple Beth Sholom’s ACTIV8! program have done mighty work for the community in just a short few months. The social action group was created in July of 2020 with the founding goal to act with lovingkindness. Members of ACTIV8! are committed to the responsibility of making the world a better place by participating in monthly service-learning projects in the community to turn their core value into action.
The program began with student’s first visit to Lend a Hand on August 5, 2020. Not only were ACTIV8! students there to provide support and quite literally lend a hand to those in need, but they also had the opportunity to learn and understand what food insecurity is, who it affects, and what the immediate needs of the community are. The President of Lend a Hand, Ron Jasser, spoke with students alongside Executive Director, Lisa Pollack and Case Worker, Ellen Acosta of the team to teach students that helping the community is more than putting packages together, but rather is about empowerment and being an agent of change.
“Since our first meeting back in August we have been discussing the importance of activism, its Jewish roots and finding ways to be involved in our own local community. We learned that voluntarism is a core Jewish value, and a traditional way for Jews to be engaged in their communities. The concepts of community service, tikkun olam and social justice all serve as important ways of involvement and connectivity between and amongst the local and global Jewish community,” says ACTIV8! coordinator Silvia Kogan.
Along with all the projects students courageously take on, they also decided that once or twice a month they wanted to support initiatives that benefit the entire community. The emphasis of this social action group in particular is about taking care of yourself and your local community around you first. The mission of the group is for these students to understand that “not only are you learning to be a helping hand, but students are learning to develop a voice of their own.” This is at the core value of what Activ8! is all about.
Through ACTIV8! students are learning to reflect and affect change in the community.
Member of ACTIV8! and the TBS community, Natalia Hakimi, shared that being part of this group has allowed her to step outside her cocoon to join and help others. “It is your job to combat racism, anti-Semitism, xenophobia, homophobia, gender inequality, and more. Don’t choose silence and take a stand. In today’s world your voice is more amplified than ever through social media and the world’s thirst for change. The time to change the future is now!” says Hakimi.
ACTIV8! students continued their dedicated service work through the end of the 2020 year. On August 19, 2020 members did work for the Homebound in the community and continued their efforts through September 13, 2020. During this time students provided goodie bags to elder community members, providing Shabbat and Rosh Hashanah supplies. Students felt as though seniors needed to feel connected to the community and wanted them to know that they are always being thought of.
More recently, on January 18, 2021, a group of high school students from Temple Beth Sholom in Roslyn headed to NOSH – St. Rocco’s Church Food Pantry in Glen Cove. Under the leadership of Silvia Kogan, ACTIV8! Coordinator the students kicked off the Temple’s Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service by first meeting with Courtney Callahan, the director and founder of NOSH. After Callahan shared a brief history of the organization, the teens brought over boxes of non-perishable food, collected by all members of the Temple, Religious School and ECC, to be donated to the pantry.
This combined effort is a testament to the power of our TBS community, paying it forward to those in need is at the core of our values.
At the pantry, students packed bags of goods and clothing to be shared with members of the Long Island community who face food insecurity by helping to provide food with dignity and use NOSH’s services as a way to feed their families. This group of teenagers wrapped up the day with a conversation about community service, social justice, and tikkun olam (often translated as “repairing the world”) and the concept of food dignity. These four concepts are seen as a crucial means of involvement and connectivity between and amongst the local and global Jewish community.
“During these unprecedented times people need more support, change, and unity than ever,” says Hakimi.
We are proud and honored to have been able to support NOSH, Lend a Hand, Helping the Homebound, and Mid-Island Y-JCC Food Pantry to support those in need in our local Long Island community.
ACTIV8! students look forward to more opportunities to further supporting the greater Long Island community, as well as continuously providing help to local organizations and members of the Roslyn community.
If you wish to contribute to the food pantry in Glen Cove, NOSH’s hotline is (516) 366 – 0277.
Additionally, food pantry donations can be dropped off at:
The North Shore Soup Kitchen
P.O. Box 168
Glen Cove, NY 11542.