Students Meet with Community Leaders and Learn About Jewish Life in Texas on Coast to Coast Winter Mission

Jan 8, 2009 — This winter break, 30 students from Yeshiva University and other colleges across the US will visit Texas as participants in the Jewish Life Coast to Coast Service Corps run by YU’s Center for the Jewish Future (CJF). The goal of the program, sponsored by the Charles and Lynn Schusterman Family Foundation, is to create a life-shaping experience for the students by immersing them in Jewish communal life, exposing them to leadership opportunities across the country and providing them with the hands-on opportunity to help rebuild hurricane-damaged areas.

“Through their involvement and research, the students will gain a better understanding of the needs of the greater Jewish community and broader world community and how they can be a positive factor,” said Aliza Abrams, director of the Coast to Coast program.

As part of the program, students will meet with local rabbinic and lay leaders in Houston and Dallas, provide hurricane relief as volunteers in Galveston, work in lower income communities, contribute as educators and learn the importance of community involvement.

“I hope to attain leadership skills along with an appreciation of how easy I have it in New York,” said Stephanie Gampel, a Queens College sophomore. “Hopefully, this trip will help me to facilitate the growth of more Jewish communities.”

Rabbi Ari Segal, YC ’98 and WSSW ’01, head of school at the Robert M. Beren Academy— Houston’s largest K-12 yeshiva day school—and founding rabbi of Congregation Ahavat Yisrael, is excited to have the Coast to Coast students visit the Beren Academy.

“This program connects us to the larger Jewish world and lets our community know that we are part of something special,” said Rabbi Segal. “We can tell our kids about the value of having a Torah Umadda education, but when they sit with a group of students who represent the notion, it can be a life-changing experience.”

Evan Zauder, a Yeshiva College senior and first year semicha [rabbinic ordination] student at YU’s Rabbi Isaac Elchanan Theological Seminary (RIETS), will be participating in the Coast to Coast program for the third time.

“It’s really a pleasure to visit these smaller Jewish communities,” says Zauder, who plans on eventually living in one of these cities. “I consider my Coast to Coast experiences ‘pilot trips.’”

To learn more about the Center for the Jewish Future, please visit www.yu.edu/cjf.

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