Get Involved: Students Recommend their Favorite Non-Heschel Programs

By Sarah Horvath ‘21


As shown by the new clubs schedule, the administration is pushing for students to commit to in-school clubs. While Heschel clubs are certainly interesting and engaging, there are also many opportunities for students to get involved in activities outside of school.

For example, senior Elana Nussbaum Cohen participates in HaZamir, an international teen choir that has 38 chapters across America and Israel. “Every Sunday I attend HaZamir Brooklyn practice,” Nussbaum Cohen said, describing her involvement in the choir. Each chapter learns the same music each week and then performs all together on stages like the Metropolitan Opera and Carnegie Hall. Nussbaum Cohen is regular singer in her chapter and also a teen leader. “My role as a teen leader is doing more of the social activities,” she explained. Each chapter has a professional conductor and a teen leader who take charge in directing the group. Nussbaum Cohen said, “HaZamir combines aspects of both a youth group and a choir to create a movement of Jewish teenagers who are passionate about both Judaism and music.” Reach out to her if you want to get involved. “There are chapters everywhere,” she concluded, “for people who want to take part in beautiful, powerful choral music.”

Senior Shoshana Scheinberg participates in United Synagogue Youth (USY) group. Members of USY take part in social activities and community service projects. USY exists on the synagogue, regional, state, and international levels. Scheinberg serves as the Vice President of Religion Education on the International General Board. “I organize t’fillot and plan activities, programs, and initiatives to help people foster their own connection to Judaism,” she explained. She recommends that all conservative Jews become involved in it. Sophomore Jeremy Brandspiegel also is involved in the Religion Education part of USY. “I organize the Saturday morning service for my synagogue’s youth shabbat,” he added. Brandspiegel enjoys being a part of USY, as he encourages his peers “to participate by reading Torah and leading services.”

Senior Nina Glesby is engaged with Reece’s Rainbow, an organization that advocates for orphans with disabilities around the world and fundraises for their adoption grants. Additionally, the organization promotes awareness through an online community, media communications, and other events. After watching the documentaries Bulgaria’s Abandoned Children and Ukraine’s Forgotten Children, which highlight investigative reports showing “the abuse and neglect endured by institutionalized orphans with special needs,” Glesby knew it was time to take action. Glesby began researching international adoption and different organizations and found Reece’s Rainbow. Glesby participates in the organization as an advocate, and from her involvement she has “hundreds of adoptive-mom friends who adopted with the help of Reece’s Rainbow. They teach me a lot about attachment issues, institutional delays, and trauma.” Her main goals are to find families for different kids and to raise awareness for the issue. Glesby finds meaning in this act of hesed, as she has a passion for working with kids with disabilities. “When I learned about the abuse in orphanages,” Glesby added, “it was heartbreaking to think about how easily the kids I work with and love so dearly could have been in that situation. I have seen what happens when kids aren’t adopted in time, and I have mourned countless lives lost because of it. This isn’t an issue you can hear about and ignore – once you’ve seen kids on the brink of death, you can’t ever forget it.” Glesby recommends this program to “anyone who has a heart for kids, especially kids with disabilities.”

In addition to community-based programs, some students are involved in academic activities outside of school. Junior Mia Steinberg is involved in the Brown Scholars Fellowship run by the American Museum of Natural History, an all-expense-paid-three-year program for girls interested in computer science and science. “The first year,” Steinberg explained, “you learn how to code with Python. We use problem solving to help you learn how to code.” During the second year, Brown Scholars fellows become paid interns. “We spend the whole year working on a project,” Steinberg added. This is Steinberg’s third year participating in the prestigious fellowship. This year she has the option to be a teaching assistant and also has access to the fellowship’s college guidance program. Steinberg recommends the program “to all girls interested, at all, in coding.” She specifically likes this program because “we don’t just learn, we learn while doing.”


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