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Westchester High School Students Win Jewish Commitment Awards

Aliza Waxman Photo Credit: Provided
Karen Bender Photo Credit: Provided

LARCHMONT, N.Y. -- Congregation Sulam Yaakov (CSY) in Larchmont recently announced the selection of local Jewish teen advocates Karen Bender and Aliza Waxman as its 2017 Jewish Commitment Award recipients.

"Both Karen and Aliza have committed themselves to the values of service and learning which Sulam Yaakov holds so dear,” said Rabbi Alfredo Borodowski. “These youths point to a bright future for the Jewish people."

Bender is an 11th-grade student at Blind Brook High School and a proud member of Congregation Emanu-El of Westchester. At Emanu-El, she is involved in every area of the temple; for the last two years, she has been the president of the temple’s youth group, according to a release from CSY.

Bender loves her role, and it has enabled her to work with others to coordinate various mitzvah projects, such as trips to AFYA (collecting and sorting medical supplies for delivery to Third World countries), Midnight Run (helping New York City's homeless population), Kid’s Kloset, Gilda’s Club, Making Strides Against Breast Cancer, Our New Way Garden (sustainable garden food donated to Carver Center) and various other projects, the release said.

Bender also works as a teaching assistant at the congregation to help with Hebrew lessons and is glad to serve as a role model for younger students.

Waxman, 16, is an 11th-grade student at White Plains High School, where she is a scholar athlete on the Women’s Varsity Swim and Dive team. She is a member of the National Honor Society, a student in the three-year Science Research program, and she also plays the flute.

Outside of school, Waxman is in her third year of volunteering as a Shabbat Buddy on Shabbat mornings at Temple Israel Center in White Plains. In this capacity she accompanies one child during the children’s Shabbat morning services.

She is back at Temple Israel Center on Sunday mornings as a madricha, also in her third year, in the kindergarten class at the synagogue’s religious school.

Waxman is also on Temple Israel Center’s United Synagogue Youth Board, and participates in local and regional USY activities. On Wednesday evenings, she can be found at the Havurat Torah High School there.

The highlight of Waxman's 16 years so has been her nine summers at Camp Ramah in the Berkshires, according to the release. She is counting the days until her first trip to Israel.

The entire Congregation Sulam Yaakov community will honor Bender and Waxman's charitableness and commitment to the Jewish community at this year’s award presentation by Rabbi Alfredo, scheduled for Friday, March 31.

The public will be invited to a special evening Kabbalat Shabbat service at the Congregation to honor the two teens and enjoy a light dinner and camaraderie.

For more information on the CSY Jewish Commitment Award, including how to apply, call (914) 834-1093 or visit CSY's website.

Congregation Sulam Yaakov is at 2111 Boston Post Rd., Larchmont.

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