This past week, 12 students from the Bergen County High School of Jewish Studies went on a mission of tikkun olam to Charleston, South Carolina. Accompanying them were Miriam Pittinsky and Sarah Steinhardt, both of NCSY, and BCHSJS principal, Fred Nagler.
The students worked with the Surfrider Foundation picking up refuse along a roadway, as well as in the nearby swamp area. At Ronald McDonald House some students made breakfasts and lunches which were frozen for use in the coming weeks, some students weeded the lawn and others filled a bin with flip tops from soda cans.
A whole day was devoted to helping at Habitat for Humanity’s Sea Island Homes which were under construction. Ten students worked on installing insulation inside a number of homes, while two other students caulked an entire house.
Another aspect of the trip was learning about Charleston and its Jewish character. This included eating dinner at synagogue Dor Tikvah. Rabbi Davies took the group into the newly created sanctuary and gave a short history of the synagogue and Charleston Jewry. The group toured one of the oldest synagogues in the United States, KKBE and learned more about Jews in early Charleston, including the fact that Charleston was the largest Jewish city until approximately 1820. A trip to the Jewish cemetery gave the students the opportunity to learn about Jews who served in the Revolutionary Civil Wars.
With what energy the students had left, the evenings were for fun activities. The teens succeeded in exiting their Escape Room, zoomed around the track in go-karts and on the last night watched a South Carolina Stingray hockey game.
This trip made the twelve teens a close knit unit, who all stated that upon return to Bergen County they would look for other ways to make our world a better place.