(idea submitted by Elissa G.)
It is no secret that Jewish Young Adults of today are primarily part of the privileged upper-middle class, except for the few who are middle class or upper class. It is also no secret that part of being of the upper-middle class is the guilt associated with being upper-middle class. Therefore, in order to assuage that guilt, JYAs have incorporated a compulsory stint in volunteering, which usually happens from 18 to 30, as a veritable rite of passage into adulthood.
What is unique about this volunteer work is that JYAs will pay extraordinary sums of money, or rather their parents will, just to add this required line to their Nice Jewish Boy/Girl resume. Considering this, many organizations have capitalized on guilt and created entire institutions devoted toward taking money from the parents of JYAs in exchange for an opportunity to alleviate some guilt with a bevy of opportunities for volunteer work.
Want to spend two weeks on an alternative spring break digging irrigation ditches in Guatemala? All you need is a check for 550 bucks to the American Jewish World Service, plus you have to buy your own ticket. Want to help with Katrina relief for a week? Just sign up with your local Hillel for a mere 125 dollars and get yourself a round trip flight. Looking to help alleviate urban plight in your favorite metropolitan city? Just get yourself a Grand and sign up with Avodah: The Jewish Service Corps. Feeling a little more adventurous? Why not spend $7,600 for a 5 month experience in Jerusalem with WUJS?
But paying to volunteer isn’t just limited to do-goodery alone for the JYA. Any of the multiple programs available promise plenty of post-voluntary partying, and possible prurience. Some studies estimate that Jewish volunteer programs are usually comprised of only about two hours a day of actual work and the remaining 22 hours an even mix of drinking and trying to hook up
Effectively, even though JYAs are spending their hard earn cash on good causes, they also get the added benefit of being surrounded by other JYAs who similarly paid money to get their smooch on after half-assed attempts in volunteering.