Rabbi Rescues At-Risk Youth In Utah
Over three years ago, I launched the work of the Your Mark on the World Center with the publication of my book, Your Mark on the World. In the book, I profiled some wonderful people doing amazing things to make the world a better place.
One of the most fascinating people I profiled was Rabbi Benny Zippel of Chabad Lubavitch of Utah, who had launched a program to provide spiritual help and support to at risk youth spending time in residential schools, including some who were there as an alternative to incarceration.
Three years later, I’m eager to catch up with Rabbi Zippel and his Project HEART.
“Thousands of precious young souls find themselves in Utah for 9-18 months at a time in a variety of residential treatment centers, to help them be able to better cope with their challenges in life. As one can understand, the challenges facing these young men and women are not limited to them themselves but can have a lasting impact on their families and loved ones as well,” he explains.
“As the Executive Director of Project HEART, my work focuses on providing a support system for these young people, based on the principles of Judaism and spirituality, helping each and every one of them discover how they truly are a gem, and all that is necessary is for them to uncover the beauty that exits within them,” he adds.
Operating and funding the program is a big challenge. Yesterday, Project HEART raised over $200,000 in 24 hours via Charidy in a one-day crowdfunding campaign. The success was driven in part by matches from Gail Miller, Scott Anderson and a group of other supporters so that every dollar donated became four.
Rabbi Zippel explains, “Project HEART is a non-profit organization that functions only through the generosity of the local community. We are hoping that by raising awareness of the help that our students need, people will get involved and do their part to help us change these lives.”
On Thursday, September 3, 2015 at 2:00 Eastern, Rabbi Zippel will join me here for a live conversation about the work of Project HEART.
You can download an audio podcast here or subscribe via iTunes.
More about Project HEART:
Project HEART was founded in July of 1992, as one of the branches of Chabad Lubavitch of Utah, the local branch of the world’s largest Jewish outreach organization. Project HEART focuses on providing love and unconditional support for young men and women who find themselves here in Utah in Residential Treatment Centers, as well as support for their families.
Rabbi Zippel’s bio:
Born in Milan Italy, May 5, 1966
July 1984 Oxford Institutes, Milan Italy: Advanced Degree Modern Languages
June 1988: Rabbinical College of America, Morristown New Jersey: Bachelor Of Religious Studies
September 1989: Central Yeshiva Tomchei Tmimim Lubavitch, Brooklyn, New York: Rabbinical Ordination,
Married Sharonne Schochet, February 13, 1990
Moved to Salt Lake City, Utah in July 1992 to establish Chabad Lubavitch Of Utah (Utah branch of world’s largest Jewish Outreach Organization, Chabad Lubavitch)
December 1992: Founded Project H.E.A.R.T. (Hebrew Education for At Risk Teens) – a weekly outreach endeavor to hundreds of Jewish teens throughout Utah with acute behavioral and life threatening issues.
February 2002: official Salt Lake Olympic Chaplain Jewish chaplain for XIX Olympic Winter Games in Salt Lake City, UT
August 2006: Gave Invocation at Luncheon at Grand America Hotel in Salt Lake City, Utah, hosted by US Senator Orrin G. Hatch welcoming US President George W. Bush.
December 2007: Attended White House Chanukah Party in Washington D.C., as guest of US President George W. And First Lady Laura Bush.
May 2009: Accompanied Governor Jon M. Huntsman on his 1st visit to Israel
May 2012: Gave keynote address at National day of Prayer event at Utah Valley University
June 2014: Received Bronze Minuteman Award by the Utah National Guard at Utah National Guard Fifty-Third Annual Dinner at Little America Hotel in Salt Lake City in recognition for work with Project H.E.A.R.T. (Hebrew Education for At Risk Teens) throughout the State of Utah
Father of 6 children (4 boys, 2 girls)
Speaks: Italian, English, French, German, Hebrew, Yiddish, and Portuguese.
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