Dreams – we all have them. A few years ago JCA, short for Just Clowning Around, was only a figment of my imagination, a dream just like every other, something to reflect on and believe in, but never to be acted on. Then, one day, all that changed.
It was a few weeks before Purim and I had just come home from a fabulous day in Ateres Naava seminary. I was inspired. I felt empowered and I wanted to act. I wanted to change the world! Having spent the first months of my freshman year of college attending classes in Ateres Naava Seminary, surrounded by visionaries such as Rabbi Jeffrey Greenberg, and Rabbi Zechariah Wallerstein, I guess you could say I was thinking big. Purim was right around the corner and as a woman I had always had a hard time finding a way to make Purim fulfilling. I knew that I needed to come up with a way to make Purim meaningful for myself and for other young women like me. So like every other teen out there, I started dreaming. And dream I did. Thankfully I stopped dreaming long enough to make some phone calls, and find out that other women felt the same way I did. I made some more phone calls, contacted various organizations, and found out what was out there. It didn’t take long for me to discover that there was no Purim program for girls. There were many programs, but they were all for boys.
Women – what could we do with them?
I had hit a dead end.
But as I said, I am a dreamer. Now though, I was not just a dreamer, but a dreamer on a mission.
Someone once said, “Some people see things as they are and say ‘why.’ Others see things that aren’t and say ‘why not.’”
I saw that there was a need and I decided I was going to fill it. So what if I hadn’t the slightest idea what I was doing? So what if I was only 19? Why not create the organization I wanted to get involved with? Why not make the change I wanted to see?
And that’s what I did.
JCA is not just an organization. It’s a vision. It is a way for students and young Jewish professionals to come together and connect, based on shared interest and a common goal – to bring happiness and joy to those in need. JCA is open to all and we encourage diversity and acceptance. Participants range in age and affiliation, and our recipients too, vary in background and religious observance. Love is a powerful thing and the love that our members create and share amongst one another becomes the driving force behind our mission. It is not only the key to our success – it is success in and of itself. Who can’t use a little more love? Is there any greater gift one can give? Receive? Imagine for a second that you are the recipient of our smiles? Imagine yourself sitting at home Purim day without any visitors, perhaps not even remembering that it is Purim and then opening your door to find us, a team of vibrant young adults, standing there holding hands, arms outstretched, inviting you to join us as we sing and dance around you – dressed head to foot in costume, our happiness infiltrating the air, leaving a beautiful mishloach manot and a trail of smiles in our wake. Just imagine. What was only a dream two years ago is now a reality.
JCA is expanding. Our newest recruit, Binyomin Rohr, a marketing major at Kingsborough Community College and budding entrepreneur, will be bringing his passion and expertise to JCA’s new boys division. This year, we are opening up the program to include guys as well as girls and our plans for the future include bringing JCA to states outside of New York, such as Maryland, Connecticut, and Pennsylvania. Last year we hosted an incredible group of young adults, some students and some not, varying in age anywhere from 19-26. This year we are including many more.