SDJA junior gives tzedakah on a whole new level

By Sammi Dorfan (’18)

As one of twelve program officers at the Jewish Teen Foundation (JTF), altruistic Maya Schuster (‘18) is already fulfilling her dreams of helping others. Because she comes from a Jewish family and has attended a Jewish school her whole life, Schuster has always been told that “it’s important to give tzedakah.” However, she “never really got to see the outcome” of the countless quarters that she dropped into the half-full tzedakah jars every year in each Hebrew classroom. Seeking a more palpable philanthropic experience, Maya joined JTF, a program within the Jewish Federation of San Diego geared towards teaching teenagers about philanthropy.

Maya Schuester journo
Photo: Maya Schuster

Schuster says, “The whole end goal is to give grants to several organizations, at least one in Israel and at least one Jewish one in San Diego.” To achieve this, the teens researched different organizations whose goals seemed to align with the mission statement that they constructed. This year, the mission is to “invest in organizations improving mental health treatment for teens as well as individuals affiliated with the military.” Schuster vehemently supports this mission since she envisions a future for herself in psychology or neuroscience.

Once they agreed on the most suitable companies for their mission, the cohort conducted interviews to determine the magnitude of the needs of each. Currently, they are in the toughest, but perhaps the most rewarding, stage- fundraising. Schuster and the rest of the group hope to raise $10,000. The teens will visit the sites before finally presenting the grant money to each company. Some companies that have been selected are L’Dor v Dor (from generation to generation), Interfaith, and the Veteran’s Village of San Diego.

Maya says, “I’ve always wanted to have a bigger effect and help more people” and with her current position, she is getting to do exactly that. Those interested in supporting Maya in the same way that she is supporting organizations in her community can donate using the following link:

Kol Hakavod, Maya!


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