What is TELEM?

TELEM is a service learning program for 8th-12th graders. Teens participate in volunteer service at a local non-profit service site and learn about service and social justice through a Jewish lens. Service is sustained over time so teens can build relationships with clients and the service organization.

What is B’nai TELEM?

B’nai TELEM is envisioned as a “taste of TELEM” for 6th and 7th graders – an introduction to various types of service and social justice issues – while providing a meaningful service opportunity to the B’nai Mitzvah process.

How are TELEM and B’nai TELEM different?

TELEM includes sustained service at one service site whereas B’nai TELEM is centered on separate service experiences focused on hunger, poverty, literacy, special needs, connecting generations and environmental sustainability. The curricula includes both general tikkun olam and track-specific sessions which provide learning and reflection activities from a Jewish perspective.

How often do TELEM programs meet?

The frequency of a TELEM program is flexible and dependent on each Jewish partner organization’s schedule. Some groups volunteer weekly, while others volunteer monthly. TELEM programs take place during the school year, either for a semester or the entire year.

When do B’nai TELEM programs meet?

Typically, B’nai TELEM programs meet during regular Hebrew school hours. The frequency of a B’nai TELEM program is dependent on each Jewish partner organization’s schedule. Some programs choose to spread their 6 six service activities throughout a semester, year, or two years.

Is there a fee to participate in TELEM?

TELEM does not require fees to run TELEM programs or to use TELEM curriculum. TELEM partners may charge a fee to participate as per their standard program fee schedule.

Who leads TELEM and B’nai TELEM?

TELEM Jewish partner organizations hire and supervise their own TELEM and B’nai TELEM facilitators and leaders. This might look different at every organization. Some leaders might be rabbis, educators, education directors, or other members in the organization. The facilitators will usually lead the learning aspect of TELEM and chaperone the teens in their volunteering.

What does TELEM mean?

TELEM means “groove” or “track” in Hebrew and is an acronym for tenuah letz’i’irim mitnadvim- ‘movement of youth volunteers.’

What are the different tracks? Can I participate in multiple tracks?

The six service tracks are: literacy, hunger/homelessness, special needs, connecting generations, environmental sustainability, and advocacy. Partners choose their track based on interest and availability of service sites. Some synagogues offer multiple tracks. Typically, a program remains with the same track for a semester or school year and for multiple years.

Can I do something with B’nai TELEM for my B’nai Mitzvah project?

Absolutely! We are willing to direct families to different organizations with whom we know and work. We also advise you to check out the literacy project on the GBJCL page.

My synagogue doesn’t have a program. How can I get involved?

Contact us to be connected to an existing program or to start a program at your synagogue. TELEM also offers one-off mitzvah days throughout the year.

I don’t belong to a synagogue. How can I get involved?

Contact us to be connected to an existing program, or to find out about our one-off opportunities.