Two recent graduates from Cherry Hill High School East — both national youth group leaders –are featured in a video going viral that urges Jewish youth across North America and Israel to stand up against bullying.
The video, which can be viewed at cjtonline.org, was the work of the Coalition of Jewish Teens, an umbrella group formed earlier this year that includes youth groups spanning the denominational spectrum: BBYO, Young Judaea, the Conservative movement's United Synagogue Youth, the Reform movement's North American Federation of Temple Youth and the Orthodox Union's National Conference of Synagogue Youth.
Informally, the youth groups came together in 2010 to jointly respond to earthquake relief efforts in Haiti. But last fall, the leaders of the various groups met to officially form the coalition to deal with major issues that cross denominational lines. Bullying was the first issue chosen.
Fifteen students from several countries are featured in the short video titled Jewish Teens: Bullying Ends With Us. Each spoke his or her part of the script into a home video camera and emailed the footage to the editor.
The video, which claims that 13 million kids are bullied each year, contains a link to an anti-bullying pledge that reads in part: "I will take a stand when I see kids humiliating or hurting each other. I will talk about bullying with my friends and the adults in my life, so everyone knows I think it's wrong."
BBYO's teen leaders have opted to put the issue of bullying front and center and, in April, the group hosted screenings of the documentary Bully across the country.
One of the local teens in the video, Sarah Minion, is the incoming international BBYO president. She said that her group's leadership thought it could more effectively spread its message if it reached out to other youth organizations and they all spoke with one voice.
"It really sent a much more powerful message that we collaborated to say that we are Jews and we are going to stand against bullying," said Minion. She's deferring college for a year to fulfill the duties of the office, which include traveling to meet with BBYO members and leaders across the country and internationally.
Judah Joseph, the outgoing NCSY president who also appeared in the video — and who went with Minion to their senior prom — said, "It doesn't matter what anyone's affiliation is."
"If we can take a small part in helping to eradicate bullying," said Joseph, who is heading to the University of Southern California in the fall, "that would be a wonderful feat to accomplish."