Scotch Plains-Fanwood High School Junior Rebecca Strug Named “Youth of the Year”

(above, l-r) Steve Harkavy, of the Northern New Jersey Region of the Federation of Jewish Men’s Clubs Inc., smiles (behind masks) with Mike, Rebecca and Lisa Strug, as well as CBI President Aaron Kessler, during the award presentation at CBI’s religious school.

Rebecca Strug named “Youth of the Year”

Submitted by Laura Queller

Rebecca Strug, a junior at Scotch Plains-Fanwood High School, has been named a “Youth of the Year” by the Northern New Jersey Region of the Federation of Jewish Men’s Clubs Inc.

Rebecca won the award through the Men’s Club of Congregation Beth Israel (CBI) in Scotch Plains, which names one exemplary teen each year for the distinction. The presentation was made on Sunday, November 1, in front of students at Congregation Beth Israel’s religious school.

Last year, Rebecca was selected for the Jewish Federation of Greater MetroWest’s Diller Teen Fellowship program. Along with 19 other teens across Northern New Jersey, Rebecca embarked upon a journey of Jewish reflection and Israel education. Despite limits from the pandemic, Rebecca said her experience was nothing short of life-changing as she gained a deeper appreciation for Judaism and Israel.

Jonathan Jaffe, Men’s Club President at CBI, said there are a number of teens affiliated with the synagogue who are deserving of this year’s award, but the selection committee noted Rebecca’s strong and ongoing commitment to the synagogue’s religious school, making the decision unanimous.

For example, Rebecca is already in her second year as a “madricha” (teen support) for the CBI religious school.

“When she worked in a classroom as a sophomore, she enjoyed her time so much that she knew she would want to return, and she is back again this year, mask and all, back with the kids she enjoys so much,” Jaffe said.

Next summer, if travel is allowed, Rebecca hopes to return to Israel. As she starts to think about college, her visits always include a stop at the campus Hillel, as well as a strong interest in Birthright Israel and study abroad in Israel.

The Federation of Jewish Men’s Clubs presents awards annually to recognize volunteers who have been active leaders within their communities. Congregation Beth Israel is affiliated with The United Synagogue for Conservative Judaism and has an active Men’s Club and youth program. For synagogue information, call 908-889-1830.

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