Montreal’s JEM (Jewish Employment Montreal) Workshop, a non-profit organization that employs people with cognitive disabilities at an adapted workplace, is $5,000 richer thanks to three Hebrew Academy students who won a grant on its behalf.
On April 11, four semi-finalist student groups representing JEM, The Family Store, Shield of Athena and Hatzoloh, presented their charities before their peers and a panel of judges comprising Hebrew Academy alumni and students.
The nail-biting face-off signified the climax of students’ months-long participation in the Youth Philanthropy Initiative (YPI), a project of the Toskan Casale Foundation that encourages teens to research and advocate for a local charity for the chance to win it a $5,000 grant.
“YPI gives students an education and experience that they would never find in a textbook,” said Hebrew Academy’s lead YPI teacher, Celia Natanblut, who has been incorporating the initiative as part of her Grade 10 Ethics and Religious Culture (ERC) curriculum for the past six years. Hebrew Academy is the only Jewish school in Montreal that participates in YPI.
“Through their participation, students learn teamwork, research and presentation skills and connect with the people running the charities as well as those in need. They read about social issues and participate in acts of kindness for their respective charities. They also visit the organizations and gain an appreciation for the impact they are making right here in Montreal.”
Based on their research, students prepare a request for funding proposal on behalf of their charity, along with a presentation to introduce their cause to their peers.
Congratulations to winners Ronit Benizri, Alex Malamud and Mikayla Abenhaim who were presented with a giant cheque for their organization!
“The YPI project truly exemplifies the values of Hebrew Academy students and the Jewish concept of Gemilut Chasadim, acts of loving kindness,” said Natanblut. “I was truly impressed with all of the students’ presentations. Hopefully they have also developed a bond with their selected charities and will continue to be involved with them in the future.”
Hebrew Academy is located at 5700 Kellert in Côte Saint-Luc, Quebec.
—Aviva Engel, Hebrew Academy