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Jewish Service Corps Sponsors Forum with Rep. Frank, Wolfe

Thomas R. Karlo -- The Tech
Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.) speaks in Twenty Chimneys last Saturday. The event was organized by the Jewish Service Corps.

By Shang-Lin Chuang
Associate News Editor

The importance of community service as a continuing responsibility in today's society and its vital importance in Jewish life were the topics of a discussion Sunday sponsored by the newly formed Jewish Service Corps.

Rep. Barney Frank (DMass.) and Visiting Associate Professor of the Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences Jeremy M. Wolfe were the featured speakers at the talk, which was held in Twenty Chimneys.

"We are living a privileged life and we should be continuously alert to know why we are so lucky. We need to listen and ask what we are here for," Wolfe said in his introductory speech. We are here to help the less fortunate, he said.

Frank addressed the issue of community service in a political context. The result of the free market system is not always fair, he said. The penalty for those who simply can't make it in this system should not be starvation, especially for children, he said.

Although volunteer work is very valuable, it is only supplemental to, and should not be a substitute for, government support of the underprivileged, Frank said. The magnitude of the problem would only increase if the government did not help, he said.

Talk introduces JSC to MIT

The main purpose of the one-and-a-half-hour event was both to increase awareness of the JSC in the MIT community and to give interested students the chance to sign up for community service projects, said JSC co-chair Zemer Gitai '96.

"The JSC is an organization that was created to have MIT students be active and get involved to help those less fortunate in the community of the greater Boston area, and to serve as an unifying force for all the Jewish people regardless of their different degrees of religious observance," Gitai said.

JSC is a new service organization that is different from existing groups in that it actively tries to match up interested people and projects, said co-chair Joshua D. Milner '95. Its objective is to give people the opportunity to serve the Jewish community, he said.

"Community service in college is something that can be just as much a part of your Jewish identity as eating matzah on Passover, but has to date been far less obvious," Milner said. "It allows people to do a tremendous amount of good, both for themselves and for the community which surrounds them," he said.

If people want to volunteer, nothing should stand in their way, Gitai said. JSC is a clearinghouse that will make the contact, arrange details, take care of everything, and make it as easy as possible for students to get out there and help, he said.

The JSC is sponsored by MIT Hillel and made possible through funds from the Irving and Sarah Pitt Campus Creativity Grants, a national program that supports student-initiated projects, Milner said.

"I am very excited and pleased to see the results of the event," Gitai said. "More than 50 people signed up for projects. The speakers spoke wonderfully and it was a real honor to hear them."

JSC is currently working with the Jewish Community Volunteer Program to help match up its members with interesting projects. Projects planned include working with the elderly, food distribution, and working with special needs teenagers, according to Sandie Bernstein, director of the JCVP.