Driven to Serve


You’ve likely heard people complain about how self- obsessed teenagers are today and how they only want to look at their cell phones. Maybe you wish your kids or grandkids spent less time with screens and more time engaging with the real world.

Well, this week’s cover story by Jesse Bernstein should serve as a refreshing contrast to that narrative, as it highlights a handful of local teens who are driven to volunteerism and activism — making a difference where it counts.

We begin the story with 17-year-old Noah Gainsburg, a Friends School of Baltimore student who dedicates much of his free time to the Reservoir Hill-based nonprofit St. Francis Neighborhood Center. He started as a math and science tutor, and spent this past summer working as a teaching assistant, forgoing pay so the money could be put back into the center. He’s also gotten close with one at-risk adolescent, taking him to family dinners and having him over for sleepovers. “He’s really becoming like a little brother to me,” says Noah. The center’s executive director, Christi Green, puts it a little differently: “Noah is saving his life.”

Jesse also writes about four other teens who are making a difference. Ilanit Abraham, a Beth Tfiloh Dahan Community School student who lost a family friend in the Parkland shooting, organizes local chapters of the National Association of Students Against Gun Violence and will take part in the Baltimore Jewish Council’s Social Justice Teen Fellowship this year. Cory Kowitz, a McDonogh School student with a severe peanut allergy, is a youth ambassador for Food Allergy Research and Education and volunteers at a community center in Baltimore. Evyatar Singerman, also a Beth Tfiloh student, volunteers with Chai Lifeline, where he is paired up with a child who has cancer for one-on-one and group activities. And Franklin High student Sydney Huber tells the JT about mentoring younger students interested in charity in her role on the 4Front Teen Service Council.

Continuing with the theme of giving back, elsewhere in this issue we speak with the two Jewish Baltimoreans behind Baltimore Homecoming, a conference being held next week that aims to bring some of the brightest and most successful native Baltimoreans back to their home city to network and spark philanthropy. Connor Graham also spoke with two such native Baltimoreans, including Rachel Fishman Feddersen, the CEO and publisher of The Forward.

In obituaries, Susan C. Ingram highlights a story the JT could have easily glossed over. When a blurry photo and a terse obituary piqued her curiosity, she found that the mysterious man was a longtime Baltimore County government mailman, one beloved by many employees and politicians. Her lovely piece pays tribute a man who touched many lives behind the scenes, and who only got his due because she believed that every person has a story and set out to find it.

Chag sameach and happy reading!

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