The American Jewish Society for Service links social conscience to Jewish consciousness, engaging Jewish teens in acts of tikkun olam -- repairing the world-- one house, one park, one community at a time. The mission of AJSS is to build Jewish leaders. Come ride the wave of service to our fellow American's this summer and join us on a meaningful and unique program that will help you grow and learn while serving others in need.
AJSS works in tandem with local development agencies across the country and under thier supervision AJSS volunteers perform a wide range of construction tasks. We also work at food banks, shelters and other community agencies offering assistance and a chance to serve our host community during our stay.
"I look at the houses that we finished up and the families that we helped and can't help thinking how much we accomplished together." Over a six-week period, working 5 days a week, our participants construct housing for families in need and provide services to others. We experience hands on manual labor physicially building "community" and at the same time build our own community of Jewish teens living in a new and different environment.
Our participants devleop leadership skills and competencies in that will help them assume leadership roles in college and beyond.
We live, work and play together -- creating a strong bond of friendship and support. Our staff live and work with the teens providing guidance, leadership and supervision. Housing is provided by a local school, church or other community agency and while it's not glamorous, it quickly feels like home.
On the weekends we explore the surrounding area and take in the local cultural and recreational offerings which can include national parks, Fourth of July events, and other local happenings. To enrich our understanding of the host community, we often invite guests to teach us about local cultural and political issues.
"I shall leave with chreished memories, best friends and the knowledge that I have done a great mitzvah".AJSS fosters a welcoming, pluralistic communtiy of teens who are translating their Jewish values into action and examining these experiences as they relate to core Jewish values. Our teens create a Kabbalat Shabbat service and enjoy a Shabbat meal together. Our program will accomodate those volunteers who are Shabbat observant and kosher.
Since 1951, AJSS has completed more than 140 projects in 47 states. Our programs serve rural and urban areas, including Native American reservations, migrant worker communities and neighborhoods devastated by natural disaster. Every raised hammer and paintbrush raises families from poverty and gives identity to a new generation.
"Working side-by-side with the actual soon-to-be owners and hearing how drastically their lives will change has been incredible."
The 2009 application is available on our website. You will be asked to provide references and to participate in an interview (in person or by phone) with an AJSS staff member or alum in your area. Applicants must make a commitment to engage fully in the AJSS experience. We look for a demonstrated willingness to take on the physicial demands of our daily work and to abide by a high standard of behavior both within the group and as guests in our host community. No prior experience with construction is necessary or expected. Applicants must be entering 11th or 12th grade.