by guest blogger, LeeTal S. ’14

Harrisburg Academy is proud of its role as a private school with a public purpose, and we encourage our students to also take pride in their community.  Students learn from putting their ideas into action and becoming engaged as local and global citizens. Below is one example of an Academy student who has found a purpose in community service.

I have spent my entire high school experience as a volunteer at B’nai Brith Youth Organization (BBYO), seeking a meaningful Jewish experience.  I dedicated my time to learn, grow, and develop my own Jewish identity and to help other teens do the same.

BBYO brings Jewish teens of different backgrounds together and helps them find meaning in Judaism. For the past two years I held the position of president (“N’Shia”) of my chapter, empowering young Jewish girls to believe in their own abilities, encouraging them to do their best.

Most Jewish teenagers go through the same processes in life – attending countless services for the High Holidays, experiencing a Bar or Bat Mitzvah, attending Hebrew school, and being confirmed. As a young Jewish girl, I was always unsure about my role in the Jewish community and the role of religion in my life.  Through this international youth movement, I developed great and meaningful friendships, being able to connect to my peers on a spiritual level. I listened to my peers discuss their viewpoints with one another, which helped me shape my way of life and become confident in expressing my beliefs.

Due to my BBYO experience and the leadership role I hold, I am now more certain in my values. It is an honor to teach others the lessons I’ve learned through BBYO; lessons in leadership, friendship, and my ability to do anything.

In addition to her community leadership roles, LeeTal has also served as co-captain of the Varsity Girls’ Basketball team for the 2013-14 season, co-president of the Class of 2014, and as a member of the 2014 prom committee during her time at Harrisburg Academy.