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Springboard Blog

JTAC in the Community: Josh's NFTY Kallah Video

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JTAC (Jewish Teen Alliance of Chicago) is a board made up of teen leaders representing different Jewish programs in the Chicago community. We asked them to share stories that reflect their Jewish involvement. Over the next few months we will be featuring their stories on the Springboard blog, Instagram and Facebook. If you want to learn more about the experiences they share, email or send us a message.

Today we are featuring a video by Josh Glucksman highlighting the NFTY Chicago Area Region Winter Kallah at Oak Park Temple. Josh and Sarah Cohen, NFTY CAR President, share how they, along with teens from across Chicago, spent the weekend learning about restorative justice, exploring the intersection of food justice and food deserts, hanging at the arcade, celebrating Tu Bisvhat and Shabbat, and making great new friendships!

Springboard's 2019 18 Under 18 Leadership Event

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18 under 18 logo

Three years ago, Springboard started a new program to highlight teen leaders in the Chicago area. Each year 18 Under 18 honoree selection has become increasingly competitive. This year was no different with a record breaking 79 different teens nominated for the award. After careful consideration, the final 18 were selected.

2019 honorees

Springboard is proud to announce the 2019 18 Under 18 Honorees: 

Dina Barrish

Sarah Bloom

Ella Brown

Raquel Cohen

Sophie Draluck

Sophie Frankenthal

Joshua Zach Glucksman

Ariana Handelman

Shulamit Horton

Rebecca Jacobson

Maxine Kalika

Marc Luban

Emma Rosenberg-Rappin

Andrew Scott

Brian Silverstein

Elitsa Mairav Reinglass Sklar

Jason Tothy

Randi Wilk

The group met for the first time on Wednesday, February 13th for the 18 Under 18 Leadership Event. During the event teens got to know each other and discussed what it means to be a leader. They reflected on their leadership experiences within their specific communities and dove into issues that they are seeing and how they, as leaders, can help address and work towards solving them. The honorees also heard from other community leaders including former 18 Under 18 honoree Sawyer Goldsmith and Marissa Freeman, the Chicago Hub Manager of OneTable. During the panel, the honorees engaged with Marissa and Sawyer, asking critical questions about how to help people find connections within the Jewish community, how to deepen their leadership skills, and how to bridge their Jewish identities with the broader community.  

Next, the honorees applied their leadership skills values to their signature projects. The first activity asked the honorees to zero in on crucial Jewish values that relate to different aspects of being a Jewish teenager. The teens were asked which values related to the challenges they want to tackle in their communities and how they can use these values to inform their work. The second activity utilized the metaphor of a peer led hike to help the honorees identify their unique leadership styles. Through meaningful content driven discussion, the honorees then unpacked their issues and clarified how their individual skills best serve their issue. In addition, the teen considered at how their communities can best support them. 

The evening was filled with enthusiasm and passion. Over the next few weeks, the honorees will work on addressing their issues and will present their progress at the 18 Under 18 Community Event on April 10 at the Botanical Gardens.  The evening will include a dessert reception, live music and more! We hope you will join us on April 10. You can get your tickets here.  

Let’s Get Together: A Journey for Social Justice

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Let's Get Together

“In order to create a better, brighter future with more justice and equality, we need to unite these groups that have been attacked throughout history and realize that we have amazing similarities.”  

-Simon Adams, 17, Lane Tech High School, Let’s Get Together participant.  

Last year African American teens, of all religions, and Jewish teens, of all racial backgrounds, took a journey through the South to learn about their communities and how to advocate for social justice. The teens stopped at important cites and landmarks such as the National Civil Rights Museum, Little Rock High School, and lobbying at Springfield, Illinois during their trip where they explored anti-Semitism, civil rights, and integration.  With a goal to bridge the cultural gaps between these two communities, the teens joined together during fun activities and meaningful conversations about how they can help better their communities. “During Let’s Get Together we discussed different stereotypes that are prominent in the Jewish community as well as the African American community. This was really meaningful because the discussion not only brought us close, but also shed some light on how saying certain things or doing certain things can affect others on a deeper level.” - Jacob Kline, 16, Lane Tech High School 

Once again, this powerful trip is being offered again to teens throughout of all the Chicagoland area. From April 14-17 teens in grades 9-12 will have the amazing opportunity to travel to Memphis, Little Rock, St. Louis and Springfield.  

Let’s Get Together gives teens the resources and ability to use their words to create change. “Now that I’ve been on this trip and I’ve been able to talk about the things I felt and believed in and people listened to me, I feel like I’m able to speak way better than before.” Genevieve Hicks 17, Richard T Crane Medical Prep, said after coming back from Let’s Get Together.   

This trip is a great opportunity to learn about our history as a nation and come together to help fight social injustice. To learn more and sign up for Let’s Get Together click here.  

My Hebrew Story by Sarah Bloom

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Dear Prospective Hebrew Student, 

Welcome to language, welcome to culture, welcome to community. Welcome to a unique experience, welcome to achievement, welcome to fun.  

Welcome to Hebrew. 

I was once in your shoes, choosing what language to learn in high school. It’s kind of overwhelming, having all the booths at a language fair yelling out why you should take this language or that one. I won’t yell, I promise.  

I feel like Hebrew is different from the rest of the languages. Whenever I hear someone speaking Hebrew out in the real world, I feel an instant connection to them, like we’re partial to some united community and not just two individuals who happen to know the same language. And that language is beautiful, spoken like a song. When you sign up to take Hebrew, you aren’t just signing up for any old language.  

Did you know that the magic word “Abracadabra”, actually originates from the Hebrew words ( אברא כדברא ebrah kedevrah) which means “I create as I have spoken”? Hebrew can be found almost anywhere you look, if only you know how. Beyond popping up in the strangest places, the culture behind the Hebrew language is fascinating, and oftentimes, delicious in the case of schwarma, hummus, and falafel, to name a few. Knowing Hebrew also gives you access to numerous ancient documents relevant to history and different religions. When you sign up to take Hebrew, you aren’t just signing up for a language, you’re signing up for culture. 

Usually by the end of 7th period, I’m tired.  I’m dragging my feet. I’m watching the clock. When I walk through the door of my 8th period Hebrew class that feeling goes away. As soon as I walk in, I see my friends. Friends I’ve been with in Hebrew class since freshman year. Friends I’ve gotten to know really well and look forward to seeing every day. I can say with absolute certainty that many of the people in my Hebrew class will remain close friends after high school and beyond, because when you sign up to take Hebrew, you aren’t just signing up for a language, you’re signing up for a community. 

How many people do you know who take Hebrew? I’d bet you could count the number on one hand. Hebrew is a distinct class, partly because it’s a relatively small program, but also because Hebrew is just so different from other languages. Hebrew has its own alphabet that has both print and script versions. When writing in Hebrew, you write right to left and you write the vowels under the word or don’t even write them at all. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Because when you sign up to take Hebrew, you aren’t just signing up for a language, you’re signing up for a unique experience.  

Achievement and Hebrew go hand in hand. I don’t know one person who doesn’t take Hebrew for honors credit. And whether due to highly skilled teachers or the natural intuitiveness of the language, many people in the Hebrew program have said Hebrew is one of the easiest and most fun honors classes. Beyond that, colleges like students that are different, and Hebrew is definitely a way to stand out. Furthermore, many high schools have Hebrew Honors Societies, which give students the opportunity to take the STAMP assessment, a test of biliteracy, and if you’re up for an extreme challenge, the Hebrew SAT. All of these opportunities are great additions to college applications, as well as being invaluable skills after high school. When you sign up for Hebrew, you aren’t just signing up for a language, you’re signing up for achievement. 

But perhaps most important of all, Hebrew is just plain fun. From having cookies every Friday to taking a trip down to the kitchen to bake challah, something exciting is always going on. And during class, we don’t just listen to lectures and wait for class to be over. We write skits, play bingo and other games, learn about things we are actually interested in and talk to each other- all in Hebrew. When you sign up for Hebrew, you aren’t just signing up for a language, you’re signing up for fun. 

So go ahead, highlight your courses, plan out your schedule, hope you’re in the same gym class as your best friend. But let’s make your course selection a little less stressful. Because the questions isn’t should I take Hebrew, it’s why wouldn’t I?

Best, Sarah Bloom, student in Hebrew 5: Advanced Hebrew Language and Literature 


My Hebrew Story by Sammy Schwartz

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Hebrew Word

My Hebrew and formal education began simultaneously. My parents chose to send me to JCC for preschool where I embarked on a journey that has been everlasting. From the JCC I went on to Solomon Schechter Day School which furthered my love for Hebrew. Hebrew became as integral to my education as Common Core subjects such as math, science, and English. Following eighth-grade, I went to my local public high school, Niles North. Thankfully, I’ve been able to continue learning Hebrew under District 219’s Hebrew program. 

The ability to learn Hebrew at a public institution is a blessing that I’m extremely thankful for. Not only have I been afforded the opportunity to study a language directly tied to my culture, I’ve been able to share it with others. When I first began at Niles North, the Hebrew program was only Jewish students. While expected, I sought to change this narrative. My sophomore year, I started to recruit friends of mine to join the program. Unfortunately, the number of students signed up for Hebrew the following year couldn’t sustain the typical five classes of Hebrew. This pushed me towards a large recruitment goal. During my Junior year, I was elected Head of Recruitment for D219’s Hebrew Honor Society. Driven with passion for Hebrew I, alongside my fellow HHS members, were able to recruit over 20 students. Now, D219 has TWO Hebrew 1 courses in addition to the standard 4-5 courses.

I believe that studying Hebrew provides a unique opportunity to learn a language that has lasted centuries. Archaeological evidence, such as the Dead Sea Scrolls, can tie the language to the Biblical Era. Furthermore, with a growing global economy Hebrew will become increasingly more advantageous to know alternative languages, especially Hebrew, which holds the basis to many other modern languages. 

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