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Teen tzedaka mavens finds four ways to ‘repair world’
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Teen tzedaka mavens finds four ways to ‘repair world’

J. Team members allocate $7,000 to beneficiaries

Teen philanthropists on the J. Team of the Jewish Federation of Greater Middlesex County gather at the federation’s South River office. The teens awarded $7,000 to four charitable organizations after months of presentations and research. Photo cou
Teen philanthropists on the J. Team of the Jewish Federation of Greater Middlesex County gather at the federation’s South River office. The teens awarded $7,000 to four charitable organizations after months of presentations and research. Photo cou

Teenage philanthropists awarded $7,000 to four organizations in a program sponsored by the Jewish Federation of Greater Middlesex County.

The 28 members of the “J. Team” after a year of workshops and research designed to introduce them to the culture of charitable giving, chose to support programs that feed the hungry, find organ donors, reduce teen violence, and aid Jews and others around the world (see sidebar).

The students, in eighth to 10th grade, each contributed $125, which was matched by the federation and doubled by the Karma Foundation, a family foundation overseen by Sharon Karmazin of East Brunswick. It was the first year for the program.

During the year, the students researched and discussed some 34 organizations before identifying the final quartet of Jewish and nonsectarian beneficiaries.

The teens learned “what constitutes an effective nonprofit by evaluating how successful they were in meeting their overall goals,” said Audrey Napchen, the federation’s director of Women’s Philanthropy, who oversaw the program.

The checks from the teens were presented to a representative of each organization during a ceremony held June 6 at Congregation Neve Shalom in Metuchen.

‘Great causes’

Sabrina Szteinbaum, 15, said she heard about J. Team through Neve Shalom’s Hebrew high school, where she was a student.

“I just thought it was a good program to help me develop my Jewish identity and learn about Jewish philanthropy and charity,” said Sabrina, who is completing her sophomore year at Metuchen High School. “I learned all about nonprofits and how to distinguish between good and trustworthy ones and bad ones.”

Adam Rothstein, 15, of Kendall Park, said he joined the team to learn more about the concept “of tikun olam, repairing the world.”

“I also thought it would be a great way to meet a variety of Jewish kids from different denominations,” said Adam, who is completing his sophomore year at South Brunswick High School. His family belongs to Anshe Emeth Memorial Temple in New Brunswick.

“It definitely was a great learning experience since we got to make our own allocations to some great causes,” he said. “I learned some great things about organizations I had never heard of before.”

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