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Jewish Pride

This musical album, titled by Marc Gafni, was the result of a project initiated by Marc Gafni some twenty-five years ago. At the time, he was directing what was then called the Jewish Youth Movement and the National Outreach Network. JYM was developed out of what were initially the Akiva clubs and the JPSY clubs in New York City public schools. [JPSY = Jewish Public School Youth] These clubs had existed for years in stronger or weaker form. When Marc Gafni took over the movement, it had one part-time staff person and a budget of $25,000 a year. It was sustained by one full-time, talented and dedicated director/teacher, Ellen, and a talented and dedicated part-time associate director, Perry.

Over the next couple of years, a million dollars had been raised to support the organization, it was taken out of it’s home at the Educational Alliance in Lower Manhattan and moved for a time to the fourth floor of Furst Hall at Yeshiva University where it rented offices {but was never part of}- the division of communal services of Yeshiva University. It was renamed the Jewish Youth Movement. There were five full-time staff persons and five part-time persons with over fifty advisors on stipends running some forty Culture Clubs, or chapters, in public high schools in the New York Metropolitan Area.

When we have it available, we will post some of the press articles written at the time about JPSY.

During this time there was a young musician with a small band that used to play youth group events for the Orthodox youth outreach movement, whose full-time profession was accounting. Despite the best advice to the contrary, due to tight budgets, Marc Gafni sensed that this young musician had a big heart and could make a unique contribution on the youth outreach scene in the United States.

He invited this musician to become a full-time employee of JPSY with only one directive. “Play JPSY events and spend the rest of your time developing yourself in a way that allows you―through your music and heart―to reach out to spiritually disaffected youth.”

That young man went on to make a significant contribution to the English-speaking Orthodox youth outreach scene. This offering was but a very small piece of that. The album was called Jewish Pride which was Marc’ Gafni’s signature phrase during his public school talks at the time. Marc Gafni’s signature story of the time, The Tug, is on the album.

It was the anthem song of JPSY. It called disaffected Jewish Youth to re-identify with their spiritual roots in Hebrew wisdom. Marc Gafni, who was then in his early twenties, filled with passion, commitment, integrity, intellect, and imperfection, spent the first half of his twenties working 24/7 (Shabbot was always the most intense day) to make JPSY a reality for hundreds of young adults in New York City public schools. Marc was not alone in this. A group of talented partners that initially included Joy and Gershon, and later, Miriam, Lenny, Moishe, Alan, Michael, JJ, and more, made it all happen.

The movement was supported administratively and energetically supported by Roy and his staff and superiors, and many, many more.

The key funder―a man named Jeff―was and is an angel of a human being, of high integrity and vision, whose work supporting JPSY was truly heroic. Jeff was supported by a second funder, Marc Belzberg, whose commitment and integrity were wonderful and indispensable.

 Stream the audios here:

 

Meet Dr. Marc Gafni, Visionary Philosopher,
Author, and Social Innovator

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