Josh Goldstein, 17
While most of his peers are principally worried about SATs, Josh Goldstein spends his time planning events that help teens like himself make a difference in their community.
“I connect to Judaism now mostly through community service,” says the 17-year-old J-Teen leader, a junior at the Fieldston School in Riverdale.
J-Teen started seven years ago, and when Goldstein was in eighth grade his older brother became involved. Josh joined the group on his own in 2009, and he now co-chairs the organization’s Leadership Circle, which plans projects and recruits teens. In the age of Facebook, Goldstein prefers doing recruitment the old-fashioned way.
“If I call a friend and invite them to come,” explains Goldstein, “the personal interaction is so many times better than sending out a mass e-mail.”
J-Teen events have included literacy fairs for local elementary schools, and “green” projects to mark Earth Day at a local Jewish camp; some organizations have partnered with J-Teen multiple times.
“A lot of the projects we do aren’t one shot,” says Goldstein. “We build relationships with a lot of these organizations, and it is on a very mutual level. They know that they can call on J-Teen.”
Goldstein has made social-action trips to both New Orleans and Cuba. Meeting people in different places, Jews and non-Jews alike, has been eye-opening.
“There’s one sort of unifying theme I find in a lot of the community service that we do,” says Goldstein. “People are very similar no matter where they’re from or what their financial standing is.”
As for college, Goldstein says he may be interested in exploring studies useful to a profession in philanthropy, perhaps communications or marketing. Regardless of his day job, Goldstein is going to continue to expand his tikkun olam efforts.
“Community service is so important,” he says. “And I am in such a lucky position.”
Mix tape: One of Goldstein’s favorite courses at school is his digital music class. In it, he gets to compose digital music, remix songs, and experiment with music and technology. Sports guy: Goldstein plays basketball and soccer for his school.