Local Teens selected for Project Gesher

Posted by: Debbie Golden on Friday, March 21, 2014 at 9:00:00 am

The Shimon and Sara Birnbaum Jewish Community Center is pleased to announce that five local teens have been selected to represent the community for Project Gesher.  This exciting new program will accept 24 teens from Grade 9 representing different participating JCC communities:  Bridgewater, Central/MetroWest, Margate and Wilmington, DE. There will also be 24 teens from the Partnership2Gether (P2G) Israel communities of Ofakim and Arad. The Project Gesher program provides a unique opportunity for teens to explore and experience Israel and its people. project-gesher-teens

Participants will learn from one another about Jewish culture, pluralism, Jewish Peoplehood and much more. They will make lifelong friendships with Israeli and American teens through personal encounters/seminars and social media. Israeli teens will be visiting New Jersey in December 2014. The five local teens representing the Shimon and Sara Birnbaum JCC include Samara Friedman, Rebecca Kalik, Jacob Lesser, Meredith Lubliner, Josh Tankel, and intern Jonah Friedman. 

The Project Gesher program launched the first weekend in March and will continue with several gatherings over the first year– rotating between the four New Jersey locations and Wilmington, DE. During each of these learning sessions, the group of 24 teens will use social media resources including Facebook, Skype and video conferencing to connect, meet and bond with the teen counterparts in Arad and Ofakim, Israel, participating in a parallel two-year enrichment program. The American teens will have the opportunity to showcase their own Jewish communities, share their traditions and culture - plus forge life-long friendships with their Arad/Ofakim counterparts.

Through workshops, speakers and discussions on Israel related topics over the next two years, the group from the JCC communities will further develop their leadership skills and prepare for their trip to Israel in December 2015.  During this special journey – the local teen leaders will solidify the bond with their counterparts as they grow closer to Israel and, specifically, Israelis.  They will participate in many hands on community service programs in the South of Israel–in addition to visiting and learning about what the great attractions the Negev and Judean Deserts have to offer, including Masada, The Dead Sea, Ein Gedi, Bedouin Villages and a local perspective on Arad and Ofakim.

P2G seeks to connect Jews in New Jersey to Jews in Israel through the “Living Bridge” program which brings people of all ages together through shared experiences, education, social action and economic development. P2G is funded by the participating Jewish Federations and donors in the United States and Israel. After the two year program commences, the five teens from the Birnbaum JCC will work together to mentor and teach the new class of Gesher teens – instilling the leadership values that they learned into the next generation of community leaders.

The Shimon and Sara Birnbaum Jewish Community Center is located at 775 Talamini Road in Bridgewater. The JCC is a social service agency that serves Somerset, Hunterdon and Warren Counties, providing fitness, recreational, social, cultural and educational programs for the entire community. The state-of-the-art facility includes an indoor salt based pool, outdoor heated pool with dome enclosure during the off season, gymnasium, fitness center, group fitness studio featuring the Les Mills fitness program, Blaustein Early Childhood Center (ages 6 weeks though Kindergarten), JCC Camp Ruach (ages 15 months through 9th Grade), Bridgewater Tide SwimTeam, J-Crew After School Program (Grades K-6) and Summer Swim Club. For additional information, visit the JCC website at www.ssbjcc.org.



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