Congregation Sulam Yaakov (CSY) has announced the selection of local Jewish teen advocates Ethan Afran and Liora Reiken as its 2018 Jewish Commitment Award recipients. “Both Ethan and Liora have committed themselves to the values of service and learning which Sulam Yaakov holds so dear,” says Rabbi Alfredo Borodowski. “These youths point to a bright future for the Jewish people.”
Ethan Afran is a senior at Scarsdale High School and has been involved with J-Teen Leadership for the past four years. Ethan has contributed to the organization through his participation in the Leadership Circle. He took on key roles in planning and organizing several local service projects including: Chair and committee member of J-Serve International day of Jewish Youth Service for four years in areas of mental health awareness, literacy and physical health; Chair of MLK Day of Service with Afya foundation collecting medical supplies for the Syrian Refugee Crisis; Chair of the Civil Rights Service Trip; Chair of Masbia food bank; Blythedale Children’s Hospital; Habitat for Humanity; clothing and supply drives for needy children at WJCS’s Kids Kloset; quite a few food and clothing Midnight Runs to homeless people in New York City; delivering food packages to seniors in the Bronx; and holiday parties for children with special needs at Edenwald Center.
While all of these projects had a great impact, it was the J-Serve 2016 that was most memorable for Ethan. He was able to create this event from the ground up into the largest J-Teen event of the year with his co-chair and the J-Serve committee. They named the event Wealth of Health, creating a health and wellness fair for children and families in Yonkers, promoting healthy lifestyles. The main area he focused on, was collecting books to be given away to the kids at the fair. As Ethan moves on from high school, he plans to continue pursuing meaningful service opportunities in which he can make a positive contribution to his community.
Liora Reiken is currently in eleventh grade at White Plains High School, where she is involved in many clubs and has started her own club called Baking for a Change. In Baking for a Change, club members meet to learn about food insecurity in Westchester and make treats for local organizations addressing hunger. Outside of school, Liora is in a club called Youth and Government where she is the Commissioner of Education for New York State. In addition, she tutors a fifth grader four times a week.
Liora has always felt connected to her Jewish community. She has attended Young Judaea overnight camps since fifth grade. Liora is actively involved in Young Judaea year-round programs and is the mazkira (leader) of this region. Liora participated in a teen Israel program in 8th grade and can’t wait to visit Israel again. She is an active participant in her synagogue, Bet Am Shalom, where she attends Shabbat services, works twice a week as a teacher’s aide, and studies the weekly parashah and Israel in her teen class. For the past three years, she has worked one-on-one with special needs students which has inspired her goal to earn a dual degree in special and elementary education.
Congregation Sulam Yaakov will honor Ethan and Liora’s charitableness and commitment to the Jewish community at this year’s Award presentation on Friday, May 11, 2018 at 2111 Boston Post Road in Larchmont..