By Chava Maimon
The JLEAD program exists as a volunteer component of JLEAP (Jewish Learning, Enrichment and Play), a program funded by a generous grant from the Jewish Community Federation of Richmond and in partnership with PJ Library, Jewish Student Union, the Weinstein JCC, Keneseth Beth Israel, and Rudlin Torah Academy.
The program is aimed at providing quality opportunities for children to explore and engage in rich Jewish traditions and celebrations through the lens of S.T.R.E.A.M. education (Science, Technology, Reading, Engineering, Art, and Math).
Pre-teens and teens from the larger Richmond Jewish community who volunteer with JLEAD are not only pivotal to the success of each JLEAP event but are also a part of the program’s success through its benefits to the volunteers themselves. These young JLEADers, who come from a variety of institutions like Rudlin Torah Academy and NCSY, assist at each JLEAP station and interact with participants, helping younger children engage with their Jewish identity and helping to lift up their pride.
JLEAD is directed by Arielle Sherman, the Jewish Student Union program director. Arielle provides direction and guidance for volunteers to successfully make an impact through JLEAD.
As volunteer Naava Ciment put it, her favorite part of being a leader is “see[ing] all the cute kids and, of course, the food.” The time devoted to setting up and breaking down the events also allows these young leaders to spend time together and make friends, across diverse Richmond schools and Synagogues.
For teens Naava Plotnick and Chaviva David, “lead[ing] and help[ing] with the various JLEAP events [provides] a unique opportunity to give back to [the] community in a fun and exciting way. Coming up with relevant and engaging activities for Jewish children provides a sense of fulfillment and involvement in a way that not many high school students get to [experience]. Anyone who volunteers at a JLEAP event can [share] how enjoyable it is to bring joy to others and educate children about the Jewish holidays and events. We are grateful to be part of such an amazing program.”
The next event is planned for March 19th at the Weinstein JCC.
For more information, or if you have a pre-teen or teen who would be interested in this leadership opportunity, please visit www.j-leap.org or
contact Elliot Plotnick at firstname.lastname@example.org.