Moshe, 16, a first-generation American son of Israeli parents, has been going to JCCA’s Kew Gardens Hills Youth Center for two years. It is a safe gathering place for Orthodox young men, who feel marginalized by the community, to regain self-esteem and direction through counseling, tutoring, recreation, and internships. The Center has given Moshe the confidence and motivation to work toward a productive, independent future. After high school, he plans to go to a yeshiva in Israel for a year and then on to college in the United States.

I found out about the Youth Center from friends who were going there and liked it. It’s a really good place to hang out, where I get help with my studies, participate in a lot of activities, meet new people, and work out in a great gym. It’s like a second home for me and a really safe place. Most of my friends are from here now. Going to the Center keeps you off the streets, which is good because I didn’t want to end up like that, like some guys in this neighborhood do.

The staff is wonderful and has talked with me a lot about my life and future, and given me great advice about my education. Rabbi Ginian, the director, is helping me find a new high school to go to now, where I can feel comfortable and prepare for college later on. He also got me an internship at a realtor’s last summer, which was really interesting and where I learned so much. The summer before that I worked in the community doing projects like cleaning up the park and helping out in the neighborhood in other ways. I felt like I was doing something important for other people.

The staff and other kids at the Center have given me a lot of confidence in myself. They have really helped me in terms of life.