This article was originally posted in the Atlanta Jewish Times.
Celebrating the best and brightest local teen mensches.
On August 1, the 29th Annual Hadassah Greater Atlanta Chesed (Loving Kindness) Student Awards honoring excellence and menschlichkeit in Atlanta’s Jewish teens took place virtually. HGA partnered with JumpSpark to honor 22 of the best and brightest young leaders and mensches representing synagogues, Jewish day schools, and organizations in the Greater Atlanta community. Hadassah’s Nancy Gorod chaired the event, and Annie Fortnow, engagement manager, represented JumpSpark.
Examples of student volunteer activities include Ronald McDonald House, Young Women in STEM Mentorship Program, Atlanta Hospitality House, United Methodist Church Feed n Seed Program, DeKalb Youth Symphony concerts, Pinch Hitters, Chastain Horse Park Therapeutic Riding Program, a Judaica teacher, the Maccabee Games, and school supply drives, among many other worthy causes.
All Chesed recipients were invited to submit essays exploring what inspired their acts of kindness, their activities and the resulting impact on themselves and others. Hadassah’s Chesed Student Awards program was excited to present two individual monetary awards to the winners.
The Phyllis M. Cohen Chesed Leadership Award Essay Contest winner was Carly Spandorfer, nominated by The Weber School. She described dealing with a life-altering Crohn’s diagnosis and the active programs she initiated to combat it. She created a blog specifically for teens with Crohn’s and colitis and cleverly calls it her “Crohn-i-cles,” viewed by thousands.
The Linda and Michael Weinroth Chesed Community Service Award Essay Contest winner was Ariel Goldt, nominated by Creating Connected Communities. Through her community service involvement, Ariel discovered that she could make a positive difference in the lives of others by truly focusing on one individual at a time.
Carol Goodman Kaufman, guest speaker and national co-chair of Hadassah Youth Aliyah, explained that Hadassah’s Youth Aliyah Villages offer at-risk students in Israel the same opportunities as students here in the United States and said, “Kids make up 30% of the population, but 100% of the future.” (www.hadassah.org/youthaliyah)
Linda Weinroth commented, “For 29 years I have been so inspired by the Chesed Award recipients, their passions and commitments to their community and to the world. I have always been encouraged that our future is in good hands. These students did not choose to do something in order to be recognized. They were recognized because they wanted to make a difference and made choices that impacted others in positive ways.”