The winning team: DRS NCSY JUMP Team with mentor Rabbi Ephraim Polokoff

Long Island yeshivas dominated the boardroom at this year’s JUMP competition. DRS Yeshiva High School for Boys (DRS), Hebrew Academy of Nassau County (HANC), Midreshet Shalhevet High School for Girls and Stella K. Abraham High School for Girls (SKA), joined Hebrew Academy of Montreal as finalists in the NCSY sponsored competition. DRS took the top prize.

The program is NCSY’s national leadership program and social entrepreneurship competition, in which the 18 participants from schools throughout the United States and Canada learn to make positive changes in their communities while broadening their understanding of local and global issues facing the Jewish people today. The five finalist schools presented their projects to a panel of distinguished judges in a “Shark Tank”-style boardroom

The themes for this year’s NCSY JUMP (Jewish Unity Mentoring Program) competition were synagogue engagement, tefillah (prayer) and kiruv (outreach). Participating teams spent months developing and implementing innovative programs to address two of the three issues.

DRS’s winning programs included the creation of engaging and educational newsletters and videos about prayer shared within their school as well as over 40 local synagogues. They also devised a kiruv initiative to facilitate opportunities to connect with local public school teens and talk about Judaism from a teen perspective.

The team also created “Chag in a Box,” a kiruv program providing unaffiliated Jews supplies to celebrate Jewish holidays. For Pesach, DRS partnered with Russian American Jewish Experience (RAJE) to distribute over 100 bags in Brooklyn. DRS raised over $3,000 for these programs.

“JUMP is a unique example of how our youth can be engaged to identify their talents, develop their leadership abilities, and achieve remarkable things for our community,” said Orthodox Union President Moishe Bane. “We are incredibly proud of the students and their accomplishments and look forward to seeing the fruits of their future creative endeavors.”

Projects from the runners-up included the creation of programs and fundraising to recruit new members to a small synagogue (HANC); an initiative that allowed students to send inquiries to major community rabbis (Hebrew Academy of Montreal); kiruv programs for children using art and snacks (Midreshet Shalhevet); and a well-received app to help people learn about and focus on tefillah (SKA).

The judges for this year’s JUMP final included Allen Fagin, Vice President, Chief Professional Officer, OU; Wayne Green, Director, Jewish Teen Funders Network; Heather Kaminestsky, Vice President Global Marketing at YOOX NET-A-PORTER GROUP; Yossi Prager, Executive Director for North America of The AVI CHAI Foundation; Phil Rosen, Partner, Weil, Gotshal & Manges LLP and Tami Radinsky, Partner, Grant Thornton.

“This year our JUMP program grew to a record 18 participating schools,” said NCSY JUMP Director Debbie Stone. “We were delighted with the presentations from the five finalist schools in our OU boardroom. The ideas, creativity, dedication and teamwork displayed clearly express all the goals of the JUMP program. These students are truly the next generation of leaders of the Jewish people.”

Teams were judged based on eight metrics for the success of the project. These metrics included how self-sustainable the program is, how well publicized and effective their projects were, the impact these projects made on those they were created for, originality of the idea, the longevity of the proposed initiative and the involvement of the school. Judges also looked at whether the activity, event or program was executed in a professional and timely fashion. All proposed initiatives needed to extend beyond any existing school or community program.


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