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Justice Club Launched – Raising the Bar!

The Justice Club is Lab/Shul’s new program for B-Mitzvah teens – Raising the Bar on the coming of age experience. Each month the B Mitzvah teens meet with Amichai, the Raising the Bar trainers and with Rabbi Laurie Phillips, this program’s coordinator – to do hands-on work in the community and learn about justice, tzedeka and changing the world. 

Justice Club – Launched on 11/23/14 

Did you know that 1 out of 5 New Yorkers are below the poverty line? Our group learned this alarming fact along with lots of other important facts at our first Justice Club meeting this past Sunday. We also learned about ways we can help do something about it. 

Here’s what went on:    We gathered at Met Council; a leading Jewish organization in NYC fighting poverty through comprehensive social services and treating every individual with dignity and respect.

Our group consisted of eight teen boys – three couldn’t make it – plus two adults. We spent the morning exploring and discussing the challenges of poverty, hunger, and homelessness in New York City.  We focused on the elderly population and their isolation from the larger community, reasons why a person might find themselves homeless, and ways we can help support reducing the amount of hunger in our city. The boys asked great questions. 
Some interesting and alarming facts:

1. A family of four is considered to be living under the poverty line if their earnings per year do not exceed $22,400.00.
2. 1 in 5 people in New York City fall below the poverty line. 1 in 5!
3.  MET COUNCIL distributes $4.8 MILLION in crisis assistance.
All of the members of the Justice Club were trained to implement MET COUNCIL’s newly established SNAP program – Sustained Nutrition Assistance Program. 

This initiative was developed to educate the homeless about different ways to receive food over a sustained period of time. 

Everyone received SNAP KITS to distribute over the coming month. Each kit contains dried fruit, trail mix and info. about contacting the SNAP program. 

We used role-play to try out what it feels like to meet a homeless person on the street and offer help – when it is accepted and when it is not. 

The guys identified different areas where they can distribute their SNAP KITS and we all left with a deeper understanding of the problem and a commitment to addressing it head on. Read below – the report from one family that activated the kit right after the session! 
This is a wonderful group and we are looking forward to our next gathering on December 14th.

written by Rabbi Laurie Phillips, Justice Club EducatorCapture2432

Note from RTB Parent, Felicia Herman:

First, Sam actually told me quite a bit about what he learned – which is unusual for him. He’s usually a 1-2 word responder.
On our way home from the subway, there was a homeless person on the street. Sam not only went up to him to give him the bag of food, but he also gave him a very sweet (and mostly accurate) shpiel about “SNAP” while the man patiently listened. I was standing there expecting to need to step in when he got shy or faltered, but he just plowed through. Quite a few sentences. 
When he was done, we walked away and Sam said “that felt really good.” 
The whole thing gave me shivers.  Thank you for for all of this good work you are doing in the world.


See more photos HERE.