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

Springboard Blog

Springboard Blog

#RepairTheWorldWednesday with Nourish our Neighborhoods By the Springboard Team

(Holidays, Program Experiences) Permanent link

Jessica Tansey Image

This Chanukah, Springboard is thrilled to partner with JUF TOV to collect winter gear for those in need through Nourish our Neighborhoods on Sunday, December 13th. There will be contactless drop-off locations throughout the Chicagoland, include the city and suburbs.

This has been a tough year for so many in our community and the necessity to support those in need is even greater this year. At Springboard, the Jewish middot (values) of kehillah (community), chesed (kindness), and kavod (respect) are essential to our core principle of supporting the Chicago teen community. When thinking about what opportunities to provide for our community this Chanukah, it was important to us to create on-ramps for teens and their families to donate to organizations that will help the most in need this winter. We are proud to share that those receiving our donations on December 13th represent a diverse group of organizations serving a variety of populations including those working within the Jewish community, Black and Brown communities, adult disability community, domestic violence community, and more.

Since Thanksgiving starts tomorrow and the beginning of the “holiday” shopping season, take a moment this holiday to reflect on how we can all make a difference in the lives of others and the impact of our actions. On this black Friday, instead of buying cute socks or other gadgets for ourselves, the Springboard team plans to purchase winter gear that we will donate on December 13th. If you would like to join us in keeping others warm and safe this winter, you can sign up today at to donate winter gear to those in need.

We also recognize that this has been such a tough year for many of you. If you decide to donate on Sunday, December 13th to one of the ten locations for Nourish our Neigbhorhoods, Springboard will give any teen ages 13-18 a special Chanukah gift with some limited edition swag that will keep you warm as well this winter. Just make sure you email once you register for Nourish and she will get you a gift when you donate. 

#RepairTheWorldWednesday with Sammie Reinstein

(Social Action) Permanent link

In history class, I have always read about these revolutionary elections that changed the course of history forever. However, I have never expected that I would be living through one. Before the pandemic hit, politics was not a common topic of discussion among people my age, yet when the stay-at-home orders went into place, many people my age were starting to see how government, federal and local, affects them. Whether it is tuning in to every school board meeting, watching Governor Pritzker’s daily remarks, or following the passage of the stimulus checks, people my age began to notice the role of political leadership all around them. That is why voting in this election was so important for me. I needed to vote because the while government can decide the future of the country, I can as well. All it takes is one vote.

Because this was my first election, I knew that it was important that I stayed engaged. Once the primary season ended, I realized that I wanted to have a role in this election as a volunteer, and thus, I joined a high school volunteer group for a presidential candidate. Not only did I get to call voters, but I also met politically active students all around the country. Inspired by these students and their passion, I took on a couple of leadership roles. I served as the events manager for high school women and Illinois high school students chapters. In these roles, I was able to organize events in which we called voters, participated in enriching discussions, and watched informative political documentaries. I have enjoyed my time in this organization, and I have realized that I want to continue to volunteer for candidates because it is truly amazing to help people participate in one of our most fundamental democratic processes.

I took what I learned from my volunteer work to my ballot. After calling voters about mail-in ballots, I decided to use a mail-in ballot myself. It was a fairly simple process to request a mail-in ballot, and the clerk in my community was very helpful with getting that ballot to me. When my ballot finally came in the mail, I was beyond excited. I immediately filled it out, reading each instruction carefully, thinking through each candidate and their views. The next day, I turned in my ballot to the circuit court with my dad. I went up to the dropbox, and I put my ballot in the box. I then stood there long enough waiting for the sound of my ballot hitting the bottom of the box that signaled my ballot was received. After we heard my ballot hit the bottom of the box, I turned to my dad and exclaimed, “That’s democracy for you!”

Even though it seems like the world came to a halt this past March, voting was important for me because I was voting for the future of the pandemic response, the future of my state’s tax system, and the future of my community leadership. People often dismiss that teenagers like myself have valid opinions, but this election, I offered a perspective of what a high school student wants the future to look like. It was my vote and the other record-breaking amount of votes that made this election one of the most revolutionary in our nation’s history. 

Sammie Reinstein

Sammie Reinstein is a senior at Vernon Hills High School, and she is a Kol Koleinu fellow. She is involved in her school’s dance team, female empowerment club (Dare to Empower), Best Buddies, and choir. In her free time, Sammie loves to read, watch documentaries, and catch up on the latest news in the world of politics.

Becoming Part of A Jewish Community By Alex Newman

(Jewish Journey) Permanent link

I was immersed in to the Jewish culture at a very young age. From ages three to eleven, I attended a Jewish elementary school. With Hebrew and Jewish studies classes every day, along with temple on weekends and being amongst like-minded Jewish individuals, my culture surrounded me. Unfortunately, aside from this privilege, I did not enjoy my time at that school, and left after fifth grade. From then on I had felt detached from my religion because it was no longer all around me. In some ways, no longer attending such a religiously affiliated school made me feel less Jewish. It wasn’t until two years later when one of my best friend’s, Sofia More, had her Bat Mitzvah that I rediscovered my love for my religion. Before that day, I had trouble connecting with one of the most important Jewish values, community, because I associated the Jewish parts of me with a place I felt no belonging in. Watching someone I cared so much about stand on the Bema made me realize that how I connected to my religion was up to me. I realized I was no less Jewish because I didn’t read Hebrew every day, or because I no longer attended a Jewish school.  I finally saw my religious community not as the one I had left, but the one I had joined. From then on I’ve been much more aware of how I bring Judaism into my own life, which is exactly why I became a Peer Ambassador. I’m excited to learn more about what being Jewish means to me, and how I can once again immerse myself into that culture.

Alex Newman is a Junior at Lane Tech High School where she’s on the Track and Field team, is the co-president and captain of the Ultimate Frisbee team, and a member of the Omega program. Outside of school, Alex is the secretary of the Piece by Peace organization, a youth outreach program run but students. Alex’s work with these programs has been rooted in her Jewish values, specifically that of community.

#RepairTheWorldWednesday with... YOU!

(Social Action) Permanent link

For this repair the world Wednesday we are featuring.. you! Are you looking for ways to help your community this month? While COVID is still impacting our lives in a big way, we can’t forget about those in need around us. With Thanksgiving around the corner, and food on our minds, what time better than the present to donate some canned goods to a soup kitchen. Maybe, you want to hit the holiday toy sales and donate some gift this holiday season. Whatever you want to do, there someone out there you can help! Check out our quiz below to see what volunteer opportunity might be right for you!

Make an Impact

To navigate to the opportunities outlines above click the links below. 



Center on Halsted’s

EZRA Multi-Service Center’s

We Got You

In Person Opportunities:

Maot Chitim

Hanul Family Alliance

We Got You

#RepairTheWorldWednesday: Things I Learned From Being an Election Judge for the 2020 Presidential Election

(Social Action) Permanent link

Yesterday, I had the opportunity to work as an election judge for the 2020 presidental election. I decided to serve as an election judge since it was driving me crazy that I couldn't vote in this election. I wanted to find a way to make a difference and serving as an election judge was a great opportunity for me to support our democracy. Here are four things that I learned throughout my 15-hour shift:

  1. Teamwork is key:

Setting up for Election Day was tedious and required a lot of patience (with the machines and each other). My polling place was assigned six poll workers, three of which had never worked an election before. Luckily, we had some wonderful women on our team who were experts and were extremely kind and patient throughout the entire very long process. With all of us working together, we were able to set up in time before the election, and clean up afterwards without having to stay too late. 

  1. Not everyone will have empathy, and that’s okay:

Since a plethora of devices were struggling to connect to our WiFi pod, one of our computers used to check-in voters was running very slowly throughout the entire day, causing a short waiting period for voters as the machine processed everything. The wide range in the way voters reacted amazed me. Some exercised patience and thanked us all for being volunteers, some gave into anger and insults, and some just stood quietly while the computer did its work. I quickly learned that the best way to handle upset voters was to try my best to remain empathetic and handle the situation calmly and gracefully. 

  1. Happy voters are worth it:

My favorite part of this entire experience was the excitement and joy that some people expressed while voting. Around 6 AM, right when we opened, a woman came in and did a little dance as soon as she cast her ballot. It was energizing and inspiring to see a woman at such an early time in the morning be so peppy and ecstatic to vote.

  1. Yoga time is the best time:

At about 1 PM, after eight hours of work, since we were in a dry patch with no voters coming in, my team and I decided to do a bit of yoga. After doing yoga together, we really started getting to know each other better. Over the remaining seven hours, we talked all about school, jobs, interests, passions, fears, and spent lots of time laughing. I got a chance to learn my team’s stories, who they are, what makes them tick. I’ll forever carry with me the “breakfast club” feel I got from everyone sharing aspects of their life with people who were pretty much strangers. There was a vulnerability and genuinity to it that I’ll continue to hold on to.

Overall, this experience was one I will never forget. I learned about teamwork, how to handle certain situations, enthusiasm, and other people's perspectives. This was an incredibly valuable experience and I encourage others to try it out. If you do, you’ll most likely learn some lessons of your own that will stick with you forever.

Ania Sacks

Ania Sacks is a junior at Oak Park and River Forest High School. Ania participates in many Jewish activities such as Teen-Seed 613, RTI, Jewish Student Connection, Sunday school teaching, NFTY, and is President of her Temple youth group (OPTY). Outside of school, Ania loves to paint, write, play the violin, and explore social justice.