How students get SSL Hours


Aaron Brickman

Sophmore Dalya Brickman spends time with children in Kenya.

Sophomore Dalya Brickman spent part of last summer working at a children’s home in Kenya, where she helped children with their schoolwork. She felt very passionate about her work there, as she made genuine connections with the children she worked with. The three weeks Brickman spent in Kenya changed her perspective on community service and inspired her to work more with children.

CESJDS requires that each student complete at least 80 hours of community service, 40 of which must be “direct hours,” meaning they need to involve directly working with an underprivileged community. 

“It is our hope that this requirement provides an incentive for students to prioritize getting started with Tikkun Olam and once they do, find work important that feels personal to them and that they can feel passionate about,” Upper School guidance counselor Rachel Soifer said.

Notwithstanding this requirement, many JDS students go above and beyond their required hours when they connect with a mission that they strongly support.

Additionally, JDS partners with nonprofits that either students recommend or those that reach out to the school in hopes of promoting their organization and giving options for how to achieve hours. Some of the most popular service opportunities are through forming friendships with those with special needs in Friendship Circle, helping the less fortunate find home goods at a Wider Circle or helping the elderly in the Hebrew Home.

Locally, sophomore Dalya Brickman has volunteered with Friendship Circle. Brickman felt passionate and enjoyed helping and bonding with the children through the program. However, she was motivated to get many more SSL hours and therefore chose to volunteer at a children’s hospital in Kenya this past summer.

“It was eye-opening and a really interesting experience because I got to experience living in another country with a very different culture,” Brickman said. “I got to get to know the kids there and learn about their life.”

Although students usually cannot get SSL hours from in-school events such as the Lehman Day of Service, there are still many opportunities to help the community around the school. For instance, helping at the middle school and high school musicals can give SSL credit to students. Additionally, many clubs, including the Biomedical Club give students the opportunity to volunteer and earn SSL hours.  

When looking at opportunities to volunteer, Soifer recommends that students explore new experiences in hopes of finding new interests. This process can either be from building off previous participation or participating in an entirely new experience. 

“Community service is a core value, an acquired way of life, and should be as fulfilling as it is helpful,” Soifer said. 

Sophomore Abby Greenberg has found a connection with the Power of Blue, an organization dedicated to providing services for children with clinical diseases.

Although Greenberg has found it difficult at times to get in the time to volunteer due to COVID-19, she has finally found a place that means something to her, where she can get in her hours on a larger scale. 

Through the Power of Blue, she is currently working on a project making gift baskets for kids staying at the Inn at NIH. Greenberg enjoys working with the Power of Blue as she is both passionate about her project and feels connected to the children.

“When the opportunity arises, I definitely jump at it, don’t hold myself back,” Greenberg said. “I want to get my requirement done but I also prefer getting the opportunity to help people and I think it is a really meaningful experience.”