Maya Levine established her Gesher l’Kesher fund at her bat mitzvah, a long-standing tradition in her family. A Gesher l’Kesher Fund is an endowment fund established with the Jewish Federation of Greater St. Paul. Her loved ones contributed to the fund, as she has continued to do. This tradition began as a way to honor the Jewish value of tikkun olam, repairing the world.
“I am also able to specify a program at JFS that I want to support,” said Maya. “The Family Life Education program is special to me because I benefited from similar programs when I was little, and I want to see future generations receive the same opportunities.” This program includes activities such as Shalom Baby, Shalom Baby Schmooze, Next Chapter Series, the annual mental health conference, and the bi-annual fall conference for adults facing significant changes.
Maya is incredibly close to her family, perhaps too close. “They tell me to hang out with friends my own age,” Maya laughs. “I miss the St. Paul Jewish community. I didn’t realize when I was little, but it is unique in the way it substantially supports its agencies. This fosters such a strong sense of community. It’s my responsibility to keep doing that in any way that I can.”
Now a sophomore at Harvard studying earth and planetary sciences and physics, Maya volunteers at Harvard Square Youth Homeless Shelter. “It is such a juxtaposition between the haves at Harvard and the have-nots at the homeless shelter who are our fellow community members. There is almost no interaction between the students and the homeless in Harvard Square.”
Before leaving for college, Maya often volunteered at the Dorothy Day center with her grandma. “Now I want to do something youth specific,” said Maya.
Maya would like to eventually work in the environmental field, creating sustainable agriculture, energy and urban environments.
“I’d like to see JFS continue to help resettle people into our community, create a stable base for them. I am proud to be able to support those efforts.”