New name of the Lehigh Valley youth program announced

The youth program for all Jewish tenth- through twelfth-graders in the Lehigh Valley formerly known as Shalshelet has a new name! 

The students involved put forward suggestions in a contest and voted upon the finalists. IAJ (short for “I Am Jewish”) was the winner.

The nominating youth explained his idea behind the new moniker:

“The reason behind this name is due to multiple reasons. The first reason is that through thick and thin, in the Lehigh Valley, Jewish people have always been there for others, and not only for Jews but also for other groups, in school, outside of school, etc. Next is due to the ownership of being Jewish in a less populated world full of other religions and groups. And last but not least, standing up for what is right and teaching the people who do not understand or cannot comprehend the extent of antisemitism instead of condemning them.”

IAJ is designed to provide an environment where Jewish teens can gather to talk about issues that affect their lives and futures, as both Jews and citizens in the global community. Teens who join IAJ should get ready to explore, discuss, and learn about themselves and embrace their curiosity, letting it lead the way in a fun, friendly and accommodating environment.

The program has evolved and keeps evolving with the help of feedback from past students and parents in order to better serve the teens’ needs and better prepare them to become full grownups and an active part of the Jewish tribe.

Temple Beth El Religious School Director Alicia Zahn leads IAJ with the help of Group Coordinator Gavriel Siman-Tov, Jewish Federation’s community shaliach. They’ve already had several sessions so far in 2021, with more planned in 2022 as the group keeps growing.

“I'm a big believer in exploring yourself and expanding your horizons, and this group is a great opportunity for these teens to do that in a world that is so focused on social media and on trends,” said Siman-Tov.

Sessions of IAJ are held twice a month. To learn more, contact Alicia Zahn at 610-435-3521 or