Springboard Blog

Springboard Blog

JUF Write On for Israel Fellows Advocate on Capitol Hill

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JUF Write On For Israel


In case you missed it, we wanted to share the article from last week's JUF News Express about JUF Write On For Israel Fellows' visit Washington D.C. to meet with lawmakers. Participants also share meaningful reflections on the impact of their two-year fellowship.  

JUF Write On for Israel Fellows Advocate on Capitol Hill Nine high school seniors from eight Chicagoland schools meet with members of the Illinois congressional delegation in Washington, D.C., this week to discuss issues of importance to the Chicago Jewish community.

The students, Senior Fellows in JUF’s Write On for Israel program, traveled to the capital as the culmination of two years of intensive study and skills building that has prepared them for leadership roles when they get to campus next year.

In meetings with Representatives Jesus “Chuy” Garcia (4), Mike Quigley (5), Raja Krishnamoorthi (8), Jan Schakowsky (9), Brad Schneider (10), Bill Foster (11), and Adam Kinzinger (16), as well as senior staffers in the offices of Senators Tammy Duckworth and Richard Durbin and many other Illinois Representatives, the Fellows urged Congress to advance the work of the Bipartisan Task Force for Combating Anti-Semitism, to back increased funding under the Nonprofit Security Grant Program, and to support funding for the Partnership Fund for Peace. Additionally, they thanked the delegation for continued support of appropriations of defense aid to Israel under the 10-year Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) and passage in the House of the Never Again (Holocaust) Education Act.

"I hope you appreciate the opportunity you've been given," Rep. Schneider told the group. "With this opportunity comes responsibility that you'll only fully understand when you get to college. Thank you for what you are doing."

The Fellows reflected on their experience and pointed to a wide range of accomplishments and achievements.

“This experience had helped me in many ways,” said Marina Foss, who attends Niles North High School. “I learned that I know more and am able to say more than I give myself credit for.”

“I learned the importance of forming relationships,” said Gabriella Bellows, who attends Glenbrook South High School, adding that when she enrolls at American University next fall, “I will rely on relationships I already have and continue to build new ones.”

Max Levine, who attends Walter Payton College Prep High School, summed up his accomplishments in Washington by saying, “ I feel confident that I can speak up in support of Israel and get my ideas across articulately with evidence to back it up.”

To learn more about Write On For Israel email springboard@juf.org or visit juf.org/writeon/

My Hebrew Story - by Stephanie Kallish

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Steph Kallish

Hi Springboard! My name is Stephanie Kallish and I am a Junior and Hebrew three honors student at Highland Park Highschool. Last summer I went on USY Eastern European Israel pilgrimage. This was an amazing experience on so many levels, but one of the best parts was my ability to apply my knowledge of Hebrew every single day. When I walked the streets of Tel Aviv I heard Hebrew being spoken in its natural habitat. When I bargained in the shuk I was able to listen to the conversations of the people nearby. It was incredible to take my knowledge from class and apply it to real and vibrant situations in the Israel. 

Something that I did not expect was how knowing Hebrew brought me closer to my Israeli family. I met my cousin Racheli for the first time in Israel. She did not speak any English so I was able to use my Hebrew knowledge to communicate with her and understand the conversations of my other family members. Every time I picked up a sentence, I was excited. I could have never understood as much as I did without being involved in the Hebrew program at Highland Park.

Another powerful Hebrew experience that I had took place in Tiberias. I was with someone who was allergic to dairy and he wanted to know if a gelato shop had any dairy free options. He was having a hard time communicating with the gelato staff because he had no knowledge of Hebrew, and she had limited English capabilities.  I was happy to jump in and ask if they had any gelato without milk, a skill that I would not have gained without being involved in the Hebrew program at school.

Taking Hebrew made my Israel experience with USY more immersive and exciting. I am thrilled to be a Hebrew ambassador this year and hopefully have more moments that bring my knowledge from class to the next level. 

Meet Mady Frischer: NSCI Youth Engagement Coordinator

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Mady Frischer

(To the tune of Sk8r Boi by Avril Lavigne)


(VERSE 1)

I was a girl

In the North Shore

Can I make it any more obvious?

I did USY

Went to O-S-R-U-I

What else could I try?

Did theater too

Got into AU

Went to school in DC for a year or two

Until study abroad

In Jerusalem

Took my career goals and totally changed them...

 

(CHORUS)

I was an IR Major

That’s what my job plans were

Then I found out I liked Jewish jobs

I had some internships

I learned a lot of tricks

At AJC, JNF, The Embassy of Israel and Kahal

 

(BRIDGE)

Graduation was approaching

My future plans were encroaching

I applied for a CLASP position

Working at NSCI was a smooth transition

Everyday I work with teens

Making the Jewish programs of their dreams

I enjoy work everyday

And that’s all I want to say!


(CHORUS)

I was an IR Major

That’s what my job plans were

Then I found out I liked Jewish jobs

I had some internships

I learned a lot of tricks

Now I work full time at NSCI!

MY HEBREW STORY: YAEL SMITH

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Yael Smith

My parents like to say that my Hebrew journey began at birth. I watched Oy Baby DVDs, filled with Hebrew songs, weekly, before Shabbat and listened to Naomi Shemer Hebrew lullabies as I fell asleep in my crib. As a young child, I learned Hebrew in pre-school, then in kindergarten at CJDS and a few words here and there at home with my parents. After moving to the suburbs and going to public school, I learned the foundations of Hebrew in Religious school at NSS Beth El, and I quickly realized that Hebrew came pretty easy to me. At both Ramah Day Camp and Ramah Wisconsin, where I have been a camper collectively for 10 years, Hebrew is infused throughout the day. Camp Hebrew is the best because we learn slang words that would actually help us blend into the culture in Israel. Moving to Solomon Schechter in 6th grade only made my Hebrew knowledge stronger since the language was integrated throughout the whole school day.  Once I graduated from Schechter I decided to go to Highland Park High School. There, I had to choose which language to take: Hebrew, Spanish, Chinese, or French.  Because of my love for Hebrew, I chose to take Hebrew to continue learning the language that I always loved, in new challenging ways at a high school level.

By learning and speaking Hebrew I feel connected to Jews across the world. Just recently in Florida, at a restaurant, I was sitting next to an Israeli couple who spoke Hebrew. To my surprise, I could understand almost their entire conversation, and they were commenting on several other people in the restaurant! The more people who learn and speak Hebrew, the more the language will live on. Therefore it is important for me and for everyone to study Hebrew if they are given the chance. I am grateful to be given the opportunity to study this ancient language and pass it on to future generations.

My Hebrew Story: By Gillian Rosenberg

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Gillian Rosenberg

As my phone dinged with the first text from the Israeli teenager that I was assigned to host as part of Diller Teen Fellows, a rush of excitement flowed through my body. I was finally going to get the chance to communicate directly with an Israeli teen and eventually she would come to the United States and I would host her for 10 days. I was excited for so many reasons, but especially ecstatic to be able to practice my Hebrew with a native speaker my own age. Hanna, the Israeli, texted me in English and I immediately responded in Hebrew. I had to look up a few words, but for the most part, I had no trouble conversing. After a few days, we decided to video-call and speak to each other live. Little did I know what awaited me over the phone…

The minute I answered her call, it was as if all my years of Hebrew schooling went out the window. My mind was completely blank. I could barely comprehend even the simplest “Shalom” She was speaking faster than I had ever heard anyone speak in Hebrew. Now, I have come to learn that this is a common predicament that language learners face when talking to natives, but at the time I was completely shocked and overwhelmed. I managed to get through that conversation with a lot of “Tov” (good) and “Ken” (yes) and “Ma”(What), but I left wondering how I was going to host her for ten days and why I suddenly couldn’t speak Hebrew.

It turns out that speaking in Hebrew with that Israeli was the best thing that could have happened for my Hebrew. Over the course of the exchange and then as I traveled to visit her in Israel and speak with other natives, I learned more Hebrew than I could have thought possible and even started to think in Hebrew sometimes. As I think back to how I felt when I originally talked to her, I realize how much speaking fast and with natives helped me improve my Hebrew.

I learned the value of speaking with native Hebrew speakers, but what I also picked up from those conversations were subtle cultural differences between Americans and Israelis. I noticed the way our language affects the tone we use, the way religion connects to Hebrew, and a whole new perspective on Israeli life just from learning to speak like a native. Though it has been two years since I first received that text from that Israeli in Diller Teen Fellows, I still continue to speak with her and other natives to keep learning about Hebrew, understanding life in Israel, and continuing the relationships I have formed.

If you are learning a new language, the best advice I can give you is to allow yourself to be overwhelmed by native speakers and then use them to help you improve on your own skills. 

My Hebrew Story: By Noah Srulovitz

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Noah Srulovitz

My name is Noah Srulovitz, and I am currently a senior at Deerfield High School. Looking back at my high school experiences, something that stands out above all else is how profoundly taking Hebrew classes helped me grow: as an individual, as a leader, and as a Jew.

I decided to take Hebrew in order to maintain my connection to my Jewish identity and my relationship to Israel. For elementary and middle school, I attended Solomon Schechter Day School. After learning Hebrew as a second language for nine years, I wanted to continue to immerse myself in the language as a high school student.

Since my mom is Israeli and my family is connected to Israel, feeling immersed to the Hebrew language and culture is important to me. Frequently, I hear my parents watching an Israeli TV show from across the house. Hearing my mom helping my dad, who is trying to pronounce the Hebrew words he hears in the show, I am reminded how significant learning Hebrew is to my family: it brings us closer together.

Studying Hebrew provides a unique challenge that many other languages offered in high school cannot: there is an entirely new alphabet to learn. This makes studying Hebrew more rewarding when one succeeds in mastering a new vocabulary word or finally understanding a certain part of speech.

Hebrew also provides a connection to one’s Jewish identity and can strengthen their relationship to Israel. Being able to speak the same language as most Israelis do and as our forefathers did is an incredible ability that all Jews should have the opportunity to gain.

I have gained a sense of community and belonging by being part of my high school’s Hebrew program. Choosing to take Hebrew gave me a class where I can escape my stress and reconnect with my roots. There, I was learning about a topic essential to who I am that I was passionate about studying. Over the past three and a half years, I have been able to grow as an individual and as a Hebrew-speaker alongside others who are just as passionate about learning the language as I am.

After being heavily involved in the Deerfield Hebrew Honors Society and Deerfield Students for Israel, I want to use what I have learned about spreading the Hebrew language and apply it to Hebrew in the High. Learning Hebrew is an experience unlike any other, and I wholeheartedly believe that every single Jewish student should know this. 

Ta’am (Taste of) Yisrael or Ta’am Lily?

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National Institute of Mental Health

Shalom everyone, my name is Lily Booker and here’s a little Ta’am or ‘taste’ of who I am!  

I was born and raised in Deerfield, IL and spent many summers up at OSRUI. I was a camper for 6 summers and then spent an additional 6 summers on staff as a madricha (מדרחה) or counselor. I was even the unit head for Moshavah (מושבה), the outdoor, camping unit.  

Growing up, when I wasn’t at camp, I spent my time as a competitive swimmer. My favorite stroke was backstroke and I particularly loved the 200-yard freestyle relay. While I can’t swim as fast as I was when I was younger, I still love to get back in the pool when I can. I attended Boston University where I graduated with a degree in International Relations, with a focus on the Middle East and security. I recently got a five-month-old Maltese, named Bear, the cutest, smallest and mushiest thing of all time. I live in Lakeview and love spending time reading, walking Bear and hanging out with friends and family. 

I love all things outdoors, food and traveling. Which is why I love my job working as Community Engagement Associate for JUF Ta’am Yisrael, or Taste of Israel! JUF Ta’am Yisrael is the 8th grade trip to Israel, where teens get the opportunity to experience Israel for a week and get a taste of its people, history and culture. I’ve been to over 20 different countries and plan to visit many more in the future. My favorite (of course) is ISRAEL! Hence why I love my job helping teens explore Israel.  

Interested in learning more? Feel free to follow us on Instagram @juftaamyisrael or go to our website  http://www.taamyisrael.org