Blog with Springboard

The Springboard blog highlights the experiences of Jewish teens and Jewish teen professionals participating in community programs across Chicagoland and beyond. Dive into blogs about different Jewish teen events, leadership programs, trip opportunities, and more! Join us in celebrating the unique perspectives and contributions of Jewish teens and professionals in the Jewish community. To post a blog, please email

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Greetings From OSRUI’s New Director – Solly Kane

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Whether it’s through the friendships, tefilah (prayer), or song-filled campfires, Jewish summer camp has a way of creating magical experiences and lasting relationships for almost everyone who signs up. Olin-Sang-Ruby-Union Institute, or OSRUI, is no exception. OSRUI, a Reform summer camp located in Oconomowoc, Wisconsin that functions as a second home to many Chicagoland Jewish teens, manages to create memorable experiences summer after summer. Heading into Summer 2018, though many parts of camp will stay the same, there will be one new, exciting part: a new Camp Director.

See what OSRUI’s Camp Director, Solly Kane, ( had to say about his new role with OSRUI , a place that he, as a camper, returned to year after year.

 Solly Kane Picture

Growing up as a camper and staff member at OSRUI, the best day of the year was when I’d pass through the gates on the first day of camp. I have vivid memories of reuniting with old friends and meeting new people who quickly felt like family. That day held all the powerful memories of previous summers and the excitement of the summer ahead. When I drove through those gates, I always knew I had come home.

Today, on my first day as director, I am deeply appreciative of the many people who built this community that so many call home. I am honored to follow Jerry Kaye, who has so thoughtfully guided OSRUI since 1970. I hope you will join us throughout the coming year as we honor Jerry and Paula and commemorate their 48 years of service to camp. In addition to Jerry, OSRUI is fortunate to have an exceptional professional staff team, many of whom have been a part of the community for years. I am looking forward to working with, and learning from, this incredible group.

I am excited to connect with today’s camp community, honor the traditions that have made OSRUI special, and work to lead camp forward into its 67th summer and beyond. OSRUI families are the heart of this community. I am excited to see familiar faces and meet many of you for the first time. I value open communication and transparency, and believe that by partnering with our community we will continue to move camp forward. I hope you will not hesitate to reach out to me with ideas or suggestions in the future, and I look forward to sharing my ideas with you.

In 2017, summer camp is more important than ever before. It offers a rare opportunity for young people to be present, unplug from technology, and explore who they are as people and as Jews. I am committed to maintaining an atmosphere where staff and campers are supported and challenged, and to ensuring our community is welcoming and inclusive. I am also committed to providing opportunities for camp and staff alumni to stay connected to camp throughout the year. There are many lessons to learn from camp at all ages and stages of life, and I look forward to creating experiences that bring OSRUI beyond the summer for the wider community.

To so many of us, OSRUI is not just a place, it is a feeling. As I arrived at the camp office this morning I knew I was not just showing up for work, I was coming home. Thank you for your support as we start to write the next chapter of OSRUI’s history together and continue to make camp a home for so many people.

The Trip of a Lifetime

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Now that the high holidays are almost over and the weather is starting to get colder, we are one step closer to planning summer 2018! Whether it’s camp, fun at home, or family vacations, there are so many options of fun things to do over the summer. This summer, try something new and sign up for Temple Jeremiah’s Teen Costa Rica Service Trip! The trip is for 8th-11th graders, and is open to non-Temple Jeremiah members as well. See what the Teen Trip Leader, Jordana, has to say about how excited she is to plan and participate in this crazy adventure to Costa Rica!

Summer Break Costa Rica

My name is Jordana Bornstein and I am a senior at Deerfield High School. My family has been member of Temple Jeremiah in Northfield for a long time, but it was only recently that I became more involved. This decision comes following my experiences with both the JUF’s Ta’am Yisrael trip, an 8th grade trip to Israel, and the Research Training Internship (RTI), a Jewish, feminist research internship for female-identifying people in the community. Both experiences had a profound effect on me, and have led to me to where I am today. 

One of the ways I am becoming more involved in Temple Jeremiah is by being the senior teen leader for this summer’s June 14-21 Teen Costa Rica service trip! I decided to do this because when I went on Ta’am in eighth grade, I realized how incredible it is when Jewish people unite as one and work together. I had a distinct realization of the importance of staying connected with my Jewish community. This mindset also led me to partake in RTI during my junior year of high school. The culmination of these experiences helped me to realize how I can be Jewish, and live as an engaged member of my Jewish community, in more ways than just by attending synagogue, religious school, or studying the history of Judaism. I am so excited to further this engagement in Costa Rica with 8th-11th graders, where together we will find more ways to be an active Jewish citizen in non-traditional ways.

Being Jewish is dynamic; there are plenty of ways to live as a Jew that are ever growing and changing. I realize now that Judaism can be part of all aspects of my life, and I can decide to what degree this is true. I can be engaged in Jewish studies academically, or enhance my spiritual and religious connection. But, I can also be Jewish by strengthening my understanding of other faiths, by studying political movements, or by engaging in art and literature. These are all ideas we are going to explore both before and in Costa Rica. As a community, we will come together to study Costa Rican culture, social justice, and other means of Jewish civic engagement. 

To me, the coolest and most unique part about this service trip is that we will be living in the community we are helping, and addressing their specific, urgent needs. The projects we complete will not just last a day, but they will last the entirety of the trip and we will be able to see our progress throughout the week. The same way that physically helping build a community center or harvesting crops will help the community, we will also be doing so by forging authentic relationships with the Costa Ricans living there. The chance to be fully engrossed in such an enriching and interesting culture and community is what I am most excited about.

By going on such a meaningful and fun trip, I will be simultaneously strengthening my relationship with Temple Jeremiah and the larger Chicago Jewish community. As someone who is getting ready to leave for college in a year, this is important to me. I want to remain intact with my Jewish heritage and community wherever I end up in the future. By strengthening these connections now, I am preparing myself for a future of Jewish learning and community. I hope that you consider attending this incredible trip with me!

For questions and information about the trip please contact Naomi Segal, Temple Jeremiah’s Youth and Family Engagement Director, at All 8th-11th graders, members of Temple Jeremiah or not, are eligible to participate. The deadline to apply is Friday, November 10th. Apply online at


If not us, who? If not now, when?

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JCUA teen summer program

This summer, around 20 teens participated in Or Tzedek, The Jewish Council on Urban Affairs’ teen summer program. Throughout the summer, teens learned about activism, advocacy, and community organizing through a Jewish framework, all while making new lifelong friends. Check out the blog below to see what the teens had to say about their memorable experiences in Or Tzedek. For teens that are interested in social justice, check out Or Tzedek & JUF TOV Teens Springboard School Break program, Mobilize Chicago (, as well as next summer’s Or Tzedek dates @

“If not us, who? If not now, when?” For the past 11 years, these words have brought together people of various faiths and ages to bear witness to the real experiences that happen outside of Chicago’s Deportation Center. Every Friday morning, people of diverse religions and denominations join together through the Broadview Vigil to pray for a change in our country’s immigration system. They pray for a justice system that brings peace and fairness to one of our society’s most vulnerable communities, the undocumented.


After the previous immersive day of learning about immigration reform and the experiences of America’s undocumented immigrants, it was empowering and surreal to see how others in this diverse community relate to the issue. The following day, at 7 a.m., we were greeted with open arms, smiles, and joy as we were given song sheets to participate in the service. We were instantly amazed by the inclusivity of the service, given that the songs were written in English, Spanish, Polish, Lithuanian, and Latin. Throughout the service various people led these prayers, making it feel like everyone’s voice should be heard.


One song that particularly spoke out to us was an adapted version of America, The Beautiful, by Miriam Therese Winter. Two specific lines that resonated with us were:

“America! America! God grant that we may be.

 A nation blessed, with none oppressed true land of liberty!

 How beautiful, two continents, and islands in the sea

 that dream of peace, nonviolence, all people living free.”

Singing these words in front of a building that so many are brought into to lose their liberty, freedom, and humanity was truly a surreal moment. Hearing all of our raspy, adolescent, and diverse voices come together as one was a one of a kind experience. It already felt emotional to discuss immigration in a workshop the day before, but it was a whole other experience for our groups of strangers to come together as one voice for this cause. In unison, we were able to express our vision of a just world.


The microphone was passed along to a young man named Francisco, who spoke of his experience being detained in that exact center. Luckily, he was released shortly before his wife gave birth to their first-born son. It was within this moment that we began to realize the effects immigration and deportations have on families. It was so powerful to see him come back to pray for others and thank this group for doing the same for him.


After singing and praying in English, Latin, and Spanish, we were able to offer a language that represents our faith: Hebrew.  We chose to share the words of Oseh Shalom in particular because of its message of spreading peace around the world. During our explanation of the prayer, we looked out and saw older folks look at us with such pride and genuine joy. Even though most of them had probably never heard a word of Hebrew before, we could see their enthusiastic attempts to join in with us.


These emotions were confirmed at the end of the vigil when a group of us had the opportunity to discuss this experience with one of the founders of the vigil. She expressed to us how important it is to see youth engaged in social justice work, and that youth truly are the future of social justice movements. She told us that some Fridays it might be really difficult to get out of bed early, but if they don’t come out and pray, who will? Even in the snow, the pouring rain, and other non-favorable weather conditions, people show up to pray. Another person told us that one snowy day, he expected only his family to arrive at the site, but was pleasantly surprised to see a large community huddled in the cold, praying as usual. There is never a Friday morning where these dedicated individuals don’t go out to pray for something that truly matters to them. Their dedication proved to us that if there is something you see wrong in the world, it is your duty to do something about it. “If not us, who? If not now, when?”