Gesher LeKesher is a national Jewish teen leadership and mentoring program provided by JFCS of Greater Mercer County and implemented in local synagogues. Gesher LeKesher focuses on strengthening connections between Jewish youth and developing their Jewish identity.
The program runs over the course of two years, examining a variety of topics through a Jewish lens including relationships, family dynamics, peer pressure, social media, healthy dating, and relationship to Judaism. High school juniors and seniors take the learned skills and implement them in a mentorship program geared toward 6th-8th graders.
The program has participants representing 6 local synagogues and 13 local high schools.
Teens who participate in Gesher LeKesher learn invaluable skills that they later apply in college, work, and life. They report an increased confidence level, ease with public speaking, involvement with a local synagogue, and pride in Jewish heritage and identity.
The Jewish Community Youth Foundation (JCYF) is a Jewish youth philanthropy program for teens in grades 8-12 provided by JFCS of Greater Mercer County. Each teen philanthropist donates their own money which gets matched and pooled with money raised at JCYFund-Day Phone-a-thon. Participants research Jewish non-profit organizations, learn about philanthropic giving and distribute donations as they choose.
JCYF offers a progressive curriculum, where each age group learns about the principles of tikkun olam (repairing the world), tzedakah, and philanthropy, and how they relate to their groups’ philanthropic focus.
Following site visits to non-profit organizations, teens present their findings and opinions to the group, which then collectively decides where to allocate the money.