By Olivia McAllister-Nevins '22
L’Chaim, founded by Maddie Shapiro and Sarah Phillips, is a multifaceted organization aiming to connect high school students from across the NYC metropolitan area who display pride in Jewish identity and culture. Each member of the team is committed to combating anti-Semitism, anti-Zionism, and all forms of bigotry. Through effective leadership, education, and outreach, L’Chaim gives voice to perspectives and opinions that otherwise might not be shared. So far, in addition to holding informative meetings and inter-team educational sessions, L’Chaim has completed several service initiatives, forged partnerships with influential organizations, and welcomed an esteemed activist to speak with our community.
In April and May of this year, L’Chaim held a virtual card drive for senior citizens at The New Jewish Home. The New Jewish Home is a non-profit comprehensive health care system for senior citizens. The home proudly serves seniors of all faiths and backgrounds. By the end of the drive, 120 cards were collected, some of which are now framed throughout the facility.
Later, in June, L’Chaim hosted a fundraiser, selling bracelets to create arts and crafts kits for families in The Jewish Board of Family and Child Services’ domestic violence shelters and Mishkan programs. In order to interact with the children and families in these programs each week for nine weeks, a L’Chaim team member created an instructional craft video that served as a source of both entertainment and therapy.
In July, L’Chaim hosted a webinar with Israeli activist and writer Hen Mazzig. He spoke about his personal experiences as both a Jew of color and a member of the LGBTQ+ community, his struggles as a Zionist, and his tips for young activists on social media in today’s social and political climates.
Additionally, L’Chaim publishes a newsletter covering a broad range of topics that intersect with the Jewish Community. Each issue has a different theme; the first issue focused on Jews in New York City. This edition covered topics from synagogues in New York during the pandemic, and historical Jewish institutions in NYC, the Jewish responsibility to support Black Lives Matter, and finding guidance in Jewish allyship.
In just a few months, L’Chaim has created a space that fosters a sense of community and pride for Jewish teens. The organization is inclusive and welcomes any high school student who displays pride in Jewish identity and culture, a commitment to combating anti-Semitism and all forms of hate, and a passion for positively contributing to and engaging with various communities to apply for a position on the team.