Blog  URJ Summer Program: What I Learned on Mitzvah Corps

URJ Summer Program: What I Learned on Mitzvah Corps

This past summer, a number of NFTY-MAR teens participated in a variety of URJ Summer Experiences. We asked a few teens to share with us a highlight of their experience and how their summer will help impact their year in NFTY. Below is a blog post, written by Danielle Hazan, who participated in Mitzvah Corps: New Orleans

This summer I had the opportunity to go to New Orleans with Mitzvah Corps. It is an experience I’ll never forget because of the people I met, the friends I made, and the impact I left. One of the most memorable moments I had didn’t come from volunteering and the work I did, but it stemmed from the culture I experienced.

My favorite night of the trip was when we went into the French Quarter, but more specifically at Preservation Hall.


Inside Preservation Hall

Preservation Hall is a venue that started in 1961 with the goal of protecting and maintaining classic New Orleans jazz by providing a space to perform. Today, there is the Preservation Hall Jazz band performs several times a day.

Being there is like no other experience. We were lucky enough to get our own, private concert by the band. We sat in a little room lacking air conditioning and comfortable seats. Some of us sat on benches, while others sat on pillows laid out on the ground. The seating and the heat only added to the rustic, original feel that makes Preservation Hall so special.

The band of seven came out with instruments in hand. They sat down and filled the room with an abundance of jazz. Periodically, each member would have an improvised solo that displayed the skill that each musician had. These solos continued throughout the several songs that were played, including the classic, “When the Saints go Marching In.”

Not only did I hear and experience jazz that I can’t get back at home, I learned about each instrument that was being played. The musicians would stop periodically so we could learn about the music and how it’s performed using their instruments. All the band members always seemed so happy. You could tell the passion they had for their instruments, and the enjoyment they got from passing on the knowledge they had.

I saw the spirit and fun that the musicians had, and it reminded me of how I feel in NFTY-MAR. I felt the positivity of the performers, and that made an impact on me. I want to channel that passion an d fun I have in NFTY, so others feel it was well.

Before we left, I bought a sticker that says “Preservation Hall Jazz Band, New Orleans.” I put that sticker on my water bottle, and get to look at it every day. It constantly reminds me of the fun I had, and the knowledge I gained while in New Orleans.