By SERGIO CARMONA | SOUTH FLORIDA SUN SENTINEL
JULY 31, 2020
South Florida teens are hoping to increase the number of local Jewish homes with mezuzahs through a fellowship program.
The Orthodox Union’s Project Community 2020, an initiative for Jewish teens and young adults, has partnered with Mayberg Foundation’s MyZuzah to form PC20 MyZuzah fellowship programs in communities this summer, including South Florida.
Local Jewish fellows, who have been involved with the OU’s youth movement NCSY, work as a team to research, design and execute a plan to place 100 new front door mezuzahs in their communities. A mezuzah is a case containing Jewish prayers.
The teens work together to create and implement marketing plans, promotional strategies, messaging, presentation and other skills. They then engage with their local community to identify those in need of a mezuzah for their front doors, and help the recipients to properly mount it.
Moriah Rosenthal of Boca Raton, who works on the program’s outreach team, said when she first joined it, she had no idea about all of the benefits that would come out of it.
“While a mezuzah is a little tiny scroll, it’s a big statement against anti-Semitism,” Rosenthal, 18, said. “I actually dealt with a lot of anti-Semitism in middle school, so to put a mezuzah on your door makes you stand out from every other home as it says ‘I am proud to be Jewish.’ This has taught me that being a prouder Jew is how you actually fight anti-Semitism.”
Rosenthal said another aspect about a mezuzah is that it brings consciousness.
“Every single time I walk through the doorway, I remember that my life isn’t just protected by the four walls around me,” she added. “With the mezuzah, you realize it’s the spiritual protection that keeps the whole world going. Everything is so out of our hands, just like we’re feeling in the pandemic, and we remember that the mezuzah brings consciousness that we believe God is in control even when we’re not.”
Logan Draluck of Coconut Creek, who is on the program’s distribution team in charge of scheduling when teens go out and help put mezuzahs on people’s homes, said the fellows have been taking things day by day through the first few weeks of the program.
“Its been tough because of the coronavirus,” Draluck, 16, said. “At the beginning we [fellows] met in person for a little bit, but then we started doing things virtually because the cases have been rising. However, we’ve gotten around to helping out at least 10-15 people so far.”
Draluck said that despite obstacles with the pandemic, the team is trying to reach its overall goal of getting 100 mezuzahs up in the community.
Regarding his personal goals with the program, Draluck said, “I’m just trying to grow with my Judaism and continue learning everything I could to help out the community.”
Maya Goldberg of Hollywood, who is on the program’s research team, has enjoyed putting up mezuzahs.
“All of these people come from different places, so it’s been pretty cool to see them,” Goldberg, 16, said. “I delivered one to a Holocaust survivor, and when were saying the prayer when we put it up, her face and excitement was priceless. It was really amazing to see.”
Training, promotional materials, mezuzahs with fair-trade scrolls in weatherproof cases and relevant expenses are provided by MyZuzah.