LARCHMONT, N.Y. -- Congregation Sulam Yaakov recently selected local Jewish teen advocates Abe Baker-Butler and Sean Herzfeld as its 2016 Jewish Commitment Award recipients.
"Both Abe and Sean 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."
Baker-Butler is an eighth-grader at Blind Brook Middle School and a member of Congregation KTI, the 125 year-old conservative egalitarian synagogue in Port Chester.
At KTI, Baker-Butler's founded the "KTI Oral History Project," which involves Religious School students interviewing KTI’s senior citizens and works with teen from neighborhing synagogues.
At school, he serves as Student Council president, co-editor-in-chief of the newspaper, a member of the award-winning math team, and a saxophonist in the jazz ensemble. For the fourth consecutive year, he has also won his school’s geography bee and earned a place at the New York State Geography Bee.
Herzfeld is in 11th grade at Westchester Hebrew High School where he demonstrates the values, commitment and empathy that have enabled him to have a profound influence on his peers and the Jewish community.
Through Mosaics of Westchester and Jewish Queer Youth (JOY), he has taken leadership positions on local support groups and community-building councils. Herzfeld is a valued member of the Mosaics Teen Advisory Council and is currently chairing their LGBTQ teens and allies Chanukah party in Westchester.
In addition, he also chairs the Westchester/Rockland County Outreach program for JQY which leads a monthly support group for teens.
Herzfeld says his experience is “amazing because I am able to help other teens in my own county find an organization that can give them support, a sense of community and remind them that they’re not alone. Having gay pride and learning to be proud of my gay identity has only made me more proud to be a Jew and that is something I try to help all the teens I lead understand. I want all the teens I lead to love both their Jewish and LGBTQ identities and be proud of both of them.”
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