Whitefish Bay High School senior Noah Linton was 11 when his family became members of The Shul in Bayside.
“We liked (the rabbis) and decided we’d do my bar mitzvah through The Shul and have been there ever since,” he said.
Linton studied for his bar mitzvah with Rabbi Avremi Schapiro, the congregation’s youth director. Then, four years ago, he began working for him. During the winter, he helps at Sunday School, assisting with room setup, snack and other tasks.
In summer, Linton has worked at Camp Gan Israel, a day camp for children ages 2 through 15. Over the course of the nine- to 10-hour days of the camp season, Linton has done a little of everything.
“Instead of having a regimented and strict job, it’s kind of whatever he needs help with, I do,” Linton said, adding, “the most valuable thing for me was to spend the time with a person like him.”
“When you spend so many hours, you really see how (someone) interacts with other people, how they deal with stress, how they solve problems,” he said, “and the biggest gift I could have received was the time I spent with him. As much as I think I was helpful to him, I think, arguably, he gave me something more.”
Now nearly 18, Linton was 16 when he began to evaluate the role of Judaism in his life.
“In the past year-and-a-half I started becoming more observant and taking on things and that has really enhanced my relationship to The Shul,” he said. “Rabbi Avremi has no end of things he needs help with, but now there’s a deeper understanding.”
While paid for his Gan Israel and Sunday School work, Linton enjoys helping out at The Shul for its own sake, and does so regularly.
“A lot of it isn’t very structured,” he said. “I’ll get a call on some weekday to go and pick up five things at Wal-Mart and drop them off at (the rabbi’s) house. I just sort of help him when he needs help, and then in the larger community also, like Saturdays and weekends if they have some large lunch I’ll help with that but overall, I just enjoy spending time with the people who work there.”
Linton’s religious involvement hasn’t stopped him from excelling in school and keeping up with multiple hobbies. He’s played piano for 11 years, is on the math, science and robotics teams at school, participates in theater and drama and was named a National Merit Scholarship semi-finalist.
Linton allowed that the chemistry lab he built in his basement could be seen as “sketchy,” but quickly added, “I legitimately find that stuff quite interesting.”
He described an experiment in which he extracted the pigment from flowers, then used it to determine the strength of an acid.
Linton is also a runner, but not as a member of an organization or team.
“I don’t have time to do school-sponsored sports because they take up a tremendous amount of time,” he said, “and certainly, being an observant Jew takes a lot of time – Shabbos and the holidays.”
Linton would like to study math and science at a university. His parents are Scott and Susan. His older brother Josh teaches at Bradley Tech High School; his sister Anna is a student at Tufts University.
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The Chronicle is featuring eight Jewish teens who give back to their community – one for each Chanukah candle! Is there a synagogue, community or teen you’d like to recommend for our next Teen Leaders project? Let us know at Chronicle@MilwaukeeJewish.org.