MTA Freshman Sam Verstandig, of Queens, NY, has been lobbying for anti-bullying legislation at the State Senate and Congress levels for the past two years and was recognized as one of the Jewish Week’s 36 Under 36 in 2017 for his efforts.  Accompanied by his parents, Sam has made multiple trips to Albany, where he has been introduced on the State Assembly and State Senate Floors and has met with a plethora of elected officials, including the NY State Deputy Secretary of Education, State Senators, and State Assemblymen.  On these trips, Sam and his father, Stuart Verstandig, davened each day at Congregation Beth Abraham-Jacob, where they met the shul’s leader, Rabbi Roy Feldman. When Rabbi Feldman learned that the purpose of Sam’s frequent trips to Albany was to lobby on behalf of anti-bullying legislation, he organized a “Stop Bullying” Program, and invited Sam to speak at the shul over Shabbos and also arranged for Sam to speak with students at two local Jewish day schools – Maimonides Hebrew Day School and Bet Shraga Hebrew Academy of the Capitol District.  “I like helping others and want to be a voice for those who can’t speak up for themselves,” said Sam. “I think it’s really meaningful to be an advocate for important issues, even if they don’t impact you directly.” In an effort to motivate other students to get involved, Sam founded the New York Political Action Club at MTA, which meets with local elected officials and lobbies for educational legislation. “It’s inspiring to watch Sam empower other students and encourage them to get involved in meaningful causes,” said Head of School Rabbi Joshua Kahn.  “Sam’s dedication to helping others has made a profound impact on our students.”

 

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