On December 25th, our ReachOut! program is inviting twenty- and thirty-somethings from all over Greater Boston to join us in giving back to our community. Whether you’ve volunteered with ReachOut! in the past, or this is the first time you’ve heard of us, we’d love to have you join in our day of service.

In anticipation of this year’s VolunCHEER, JCRC recognized Jonathan Sclarsic and Laura Reader for their active involvement in Boston’s Jewish community. Both volunteers will be joining us for VolunCHEER, and graciously answered a few questions about why they feel it’s important to give back. The article below is cross posted from our website from earlier this week:

#TodahTuesday: Jonathan Sclarsic and Laura Reader Q&A

Today we are proud to recognize Jonathan Sclarsic and Laura Reader! Both are heavily involved in the Jewish community: Laura is the Constituent Engagement and Young Leadership Coordinator at the American Jewish Committee of Boston, and Jonathan is an attorney in Boston, who sits on the Boards of the Jewish Alliance for Law and Social Action and the Young Democrats of Massachusetts; and serves on JCRC’s ReachOut! Steering Committee.

While their experiences in the community are different, they have one thing in common: this year they both signed up to participate in JCRC’s VolunCHEER day of service on December 25. VolunCHEER is offered through our ReachOut! program as an opportunity for young Jewish professionals to make a difference in the Boston community on a very special day: Christmas.

Laura and Jonathan were kind enough to answer a few questions about why they decided to participate in VolunCHEER, and why volunteering on Christmas was so important to them. This year, they will be joining others in their 20s and 30s from all over the Greater Boston Area to dedicate their day to those in need. Whether serving food at a homeless shelter or delivering food to the elderly, there is no shortage of opportunities to make someone’s holiday a little brighter.

Read on for more information about this special service opportunity, and hear what they had to say. Limited spaces are still open to volunteer. Contact Tracy McNamara at tmcnamara@jcrcboston.org, or visit our website for more information.

Q: How did you hear about VolunCHEER? Why did you choose to participate?

Laura: I heard about VolunCHEER because I am on the Social Media committee for ReachOut! Even though I have never been a cycle participant, I like the idea of young Jewish professionals taking the time out of their day to connect with each other. I personally work for a Jewish non-profit but I still like to spend my free time connecting with members of the Jewish community, be it through Shabbat services or volunteer work. I am excited to spend Christmas Day with my fellow VolunCHEER participants because it will give me the chance to meet new people and do a mitzvah at the same time!

Jonathan: I like the idea of taking a holiday where I don’t observe any particular tradition and using the time to give back to my community. I also know that the holidays can be a particularly difficult time for those in our community who don’t have the family support structure or the financial means to fully celebrate their traditions. ReachOut!’s Day of VolunCHEER offered me the opportunity to give back, and to do so as part of my community. It’s allowed me to create my own tradition and observance on Christmas.

Q: Why do you think it is important to volunteer on Christmas?

Laura: As a Jew, I certainly believe in values such as tzedakah and tikkun olam. This is even truer on a day like Christmas. Although it is not something most of us celebrate, I think the spirit of the holiday applies to everyone. Connect with your neighbors. Spread happiness. Give to others. Plus it gives us as Jews a chance to reach out to other faith communities. This is why I was compelled to volunteer on Christmas Day with ReachOut!

Q: What was the most memorable part of your day last year?

Jonathan: Last year I volunteered at the Tuesday Meals program at the First Parish Church in Cambridge. The most memorable part of the day was decorating the meal hall for Christmas. We arranged for holiday lights and decorations to be donated for the meal service. It was fun to give the guests a sense of holiday spirit and cheer beyond the typical meal service. What other time would a group of young Jews have the opportunity to decorate for Christmas? When the guests arrived, you could see the joy on their faces as they saw their typically plain meal hall transformed into a holiday dining room. After the meal was served and the room was cleaned up, the ReachOut! volunteers dined together at a local Chinese restaurant, enjoying the “cultural food of our people” and discussing our experience at Tuesday Meals.

Before ReachOut!, I volunteered at different sites when I could find an opportunity. But now with the JCRC, I’m able to contribute as part of a program, a community, and on a consistent basis. 

Q: What are you most looking forward to this year?

Laura: I’m really looking forward to being a site captain and being an ambassador for ReachOut! The good work we will do on that day goes without saying. But the opportunities to share the good work that JCRC and ReachOut! do year round is important too, and I’m glad to have the opportunity to be a part of that.

If you’d like to join us and spread some VolunCHEER this year, sign up today! Spaces are limited.

Laura Reader is the Constituent Engagement and Young Leadership Coordinator at the American Jewish Committee of Boston.  Originally from the west coast, Laura moved to Boston in 2011 after spending a year volunteering in Israel. Although from the outside she is very social and outgoing, on the inside she is truly a nerd and passionate about things like Excel and The Raiser’s Edge. When not at work, with her boyfriend, or at home, you can usually find her at 90’s night in Allston. This is Laura’s first time participating in VolunCHEER!

Jonathan Sclarsic is an attorney in Boston, and sits on the Boards of the Jewish Alliance for Law and Social Action; the Young Democrats of Massachusetts; and serves on the ReachOut! Steering Committee. He plays softball, football, guitar, and banjo. He can be found most Tuesday evenings serving guests at the Tuesday Meals program at the First Parish Church in Harvard Square. This will be his third time participating in VolunCHEER!

#TodahTuesday is a regular feature of JCRC, occurring once per month on the Xth Tuesday of every month, and once per week during the month of December. View all #TodahTuesday posts here.

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