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Energy and idealism come together in new program for Jewish teens

Teens taking part in JTCares created special gift bears for children living in transitional housing.

Teens taking part in JTCares created special gift bears for children living in transitional housing.

Giving back to the community and making a difference in the world are the cornerstones of “JTCares,” a new monthly program in which teens in grades 8 through 12 meet one Sunday a month for “lunch and learn,” followed by a social action project. The program – coordinated by Jewish Teen Learning Connections (JTConnect), a learning and social community for Jewish teens in grades 6 through 12 – was launched this fall with an event focusing on the Jewish response to homelessness. Teens met at The Underground in West Hartford for lunch and to learn about “Faces of Homelessness,” a program of Hands on Hartford, from people who have experienced being homeless. Following the presentation, the teens went to Build-A-Bear Workshop, where they created special gift bears for children living in transitional housing.

JTCares continued on Oct. 20 with a focus on the Jewish value of honoring the deceased. Teens met for lunch and to learn about obligations and ritual practices surrounding death. They then visited the Emanuel Synagogue’s cemetery in Wethersfield to help clean up the grounds and honor those who have passed on.

JTCares is for teens who want to to mix their energy and idealism, notes JTConnect Director Heather Fiedler. The program allows Jewish teens to develop and apply knowledge and skill to real life challenges using the community as their classroom, she says.

To find out more about JTCares, call (860) 727-6110 or visit www.jtconnect.org.

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