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Bucks County teen makes international “8 under 18” list

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Out of hundreds of applicants around the globe, Bucks County’s Andrew Belder has been recognized on the International “8 under 18 list,” which spotlights teens making a difference and taking initiative in their communities.
CTeen, the Chabad Teen Network, which engages hundreds of thousands of Jewish teens in young leadership programs through its 600 chapters, in 37 countries, on six continents, has made this list through extensive understanding and care for ones trying to make a difference, like Andrew, everyday.
Belder is a senior at Council Rock High School South, and possesses an attitude and energy like no other. Talking to him you get the feeling there isn’t much that can stop him. And over the last 18 months, that’s proven true time and again.
The Bucks County teenager has been an athletic runner and swimmer since he was 8 years old and has found success in cross-country running during his high school career.
When last winter’s competitive cross country season was in limbo for his team due to COVID restrictions, he decided to run a marathon.
Belder raised money for the Travis Manion Foundation that supports veterans and the families of fallen heroes. When the day dawned it was 22 degrees outside, but Andrew ran the course out and back for a complete 26.2 km marathon.
Now he’s organizing a 5k and has recruited fellow teens to help him raise $15,000 for the foundation. He met with leaders of two local businesses who pledged $2,000 between them toward the goal.
When he realized his school was going to cancel this year’s end-of-year celebration for seniors, Belder got his friends together, called a ballroom, recruited a band he knew through his DJ work, and put together a party for 360 kids.
Andrew brought that same passion and enthusiasm to his Judaism when he joined CTeen as a ninth grader. It didn’t take long before Andrew became a leader in his chapter.

He organized interactions between teens and Holocaust survivors, led the teens on volunteer efforts for the Jewish Relief Agency and ensured that throughout the pandemic, CTeen programming continued.
“It was important to keep the positivity going, especially at such a tough time,” he said.
Like many of his peers in Bucks County, Belder is a first-generation American. His parents emigrated from the USSR when they were both 15.
His great-grandfather practiced his religion in secret, and his parents were brought up not knowing much about their Judaism. In fact, when Andrew was called up to the Torah for his Bar Mitzvah, it turned into a double Bar Mitzvah as his father realized he himself had never performed this Mitzvah before.
Two years ago, Andrew decided to wear tefillin every day. It wasn’t long before his two best friends joined him and now the three of them meet every Sunday morning, together with Andrew’s little brother and six of his seventh-grade peers, and together they all put on tefillin and say the prayers.
“To me, being able to practice my Judaism openly and proudly, is especially meaningful,” said Andrew, who wears a Star of David that belonged to his grandfather.
“My great-grandfather in the USSR went to the market with his brother to get fish one day and came home to find his eight siblings and parents had been slaughtered just because they were Jews. My parents and grandparents were denied the chance to learn about Judaism because of Communist repression and anti-Semitism.”
Vice president of his local chapter of Future Business Leaders of America, Andrew who graduates first in his class, is headed to Temple University where he will study finance and business analytics in the honors program.


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