Twenty Chicago-area Jewish teens have been chosen for the Jewish United Fund/Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Chicago’s inaugural cohort of Diller Teen Fellows, a 15-month international leadership program that includes a three-week trip to Israel.
The international Diller program began in 1997, and has grown to include 10 North American/Israeli partnerships. The program was created to inspire and train future generations of Jewish leaders worldwide who will be committed to the Jewish community, Israel and community service. Since 1997, the Helen Diller Family Foundation and partner communities have graduated more than 2,000 Teen Fellows, creating a network of young Jewish leaders throughout the world.
The selected teens are:
Name Hometown Congregation
Rena Auerbach Lincolnwood Congregation Yehuda Moshe
Emily Bakal Glencoe Am Shalom
Daniel Balogh Mundelein Beth Judea
Leta Berkowitz Deerfield Kehilat Shalom
Shira Brandhandler Wilmette Temple Beth Israel
TaliusChickering Chicago Ner Tamid Egalitarian Synagogue
Robby Cohn Highland Park North Shore Congregation Israel
LielHagen Chicago Temple Sholom
Amanda Jackson Lisle Beth Shalom
Lizzy Katz Oswego Beth Shalom
Sam Klein Northbrook Aitz Hayim
Kyle O'Day Schaumburg Beth Tikvah
Emily Reisler Skokie Or Torah and Anshe Sholom B'nai Israel
JamieSchlacter Riverwoods B'nai Jehoshua Beth Elohim
Colin Silverman Vernon Hills Chabad Jewish Center of Vernon Hills
Leah Umanskiy Chicago KAM Isaiah Israel
Seth Wasserman Arlington Heights Chabad of Buffalo Grove
Alyssa Wexler Buffalo Grove Shir Chadash
Rina Zell Highland Park North Suburban Synagogue Beth El
Zoe Zirlin Highland Park B'nai Jehoshua Beth Elohim
Accepted teens participate in monthly seminars and weekend retreats focusing on tikkun olam (social action and community service), Jewish identity, Israel and Jewish peoplehood. The Chicago program runs concurrently with a mirror program in Chicago’s Partnership 2Gether region in Israel, which includes Kiryat Gat, Lachish, and Shafir. In the spring, American fellows will host their Israeli peers in Chicago, before the Chicagoans travel to Israel for a joint seminar the following summer.
Upon returning from Israel, teens will be mobilized to put what they’ve learned into action through individual social justice projects.
In addition to hailing from a wide range of geographic areas in Chicago, the Diller teens also represent a variety of Jewish experiences and denominations.
“I’m excited about being able to form a network with Jewish teens from diverse backgrounds and many different movements of Judaism,” said Colin Silverman, a junior at Stevenson High School in north suburban Lincolnshire.
The Diller Teen Fellows program is generously funded by the Helen Diller Family Foundation, a supporting foundation of the San Francisco Federation’s Jewish Community Endowment Fund. The local Chicago program is a collaboration of the Helen Diller Family Foundation, the International Diller Teen Fellows office, the JUF/Federation, and Chicago’s Partnership 2Gether region in Israel.
The local program is open to Chicago-area Jewish high school sophomores and juniors. The application period for next year's cohort will open in early spring 2014. For more information, visit http://www.juf.org/teens/diller.aspx or contact Jessica Fisher at JessicaFisher@juf.org.