Springboard Blog

Springboard Blog

The Importance of Mentorship

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When I reflect on the things that I have been able to achieve so far, I recognize that my family set high expectations for me because they knew what I could accomplish. However, I could not have done it alone; I have benefited from the influence of lots of mentors. Whether it was my older sister who I looked up to as a young USY teen or my boss teaching me the ins & outs of advertising as a Springboard Social Media Intern, I would be nowhere without the guidance and leadership of people in the Jewish community, which has been my home for the past 17 years.  

The best mentors are fun to work with, they give their energy and come to work with enthusiasm, excitement, and eagerness to move projects forward. It can be hard to admit that we can’t do something by ourselves, but the best mentors have been those that I can go to if problems arise- and they usually do. Mentors can help turn problems into growth opportunity.  I personally, am not always the best at going to others for advice, but at times, the mentors, advisors, and staff members in my life have reached out when they noticed that I needed help, and their support has shaped into the person that I am today.  

The mentor-mentee relationship is more than just a simple tango between a more senior person and a junior one. We often think about makes the ideal mentor, but it is equally valuable to think about what makes someone a good mentee. This isn't just a student-teacher type of relationship, in a positive relationship, both a mentor and mentee can learn from each other. I have so much to learn from the staff of my programs. Through trusted connections between my mentors and I, I have learned what it means to not only be a mentor, but also a Dugma (דוגמא: Hebrew for leader or example).  

-Maddie Brim, 2017 18 Under 18 Honoree 

Maddie Brim Photos

 Do you have a trusted mentor or youth professional that deserves recognition? If you're interested in thanking and celebrating your favorite Jewish Youth Professional for all their hard work and passion, nominate them here for the LEAD (Leader, Educator, Advisor, Dugma) Award. 

Meet Your Honorees: Adina Drapkin, Max Marino, and Sarah Gruettner

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Meet Adina Drapkin 

Adina Drapkin

Adina has the opportunity to be involved with inclusive, interactive, and inspiring programs within the Orthodox Jewish community. She's involved with Yachad, which provides integrated programming for Jewish young adults with special needs. She's been greatly involved in creating GO b'Yachad, the first all-girls division of Yachad. She's on the high school board for GNOL (Girls' Night Out Learning), a program run by the YU Torah Mitzion Kollel of Chicago which provides monthly Torah-based learning programs for high school girls. Additionally, she's involved in GNOL Jr., where senior and junior high school girls teach Torah to 7th and 8th graders. Along with this, she's on the NCSY 4G high school board. 4G is an all-girls NCSY program that provides inspirational programming for Orthodox Jewish teens in an informal setting. Adina thanks the YU Torah Mitzion Kollel for nominating her, and her school, friends, and family for helping and supporting her in everything she does. 

Dream Job?  I would love to be a nurse so I can meet all different types of people, while also helping and healing them. 

Being Jewish is... what makes me who I am. Judaism gives me my values and sets my priorities. These values then guide me as I embark on projects and involve myself and others in organizations throughout the Jewish community. 

Who is a leader that inspires you? Tzippy Suss is a close friend of mine and leader that inspires me. She is a goal-oriented person who follows through on whatever she plans to do. She has the great ability to include others, which I have tried to learn from her. When I was in 9th and 10th grade, she organized two girls' Yachad Shabbatonim. That is what gave me the idea to start a whole new chapter of Yachad for girls only, "GO b'Yachad".  

Meet Max Marino 

Max Marino

Hello! My name is Max Marino and I am currently a junior at Highland Park High School. I love sports, my Super Bowl winning Eagles, and politics. I am a Diller Teen Fellow Alumni, a current Write On For Israel fellow, and a current member of the Voices Alumni Philanthropic Board. I would like to thank a few people for helping me become the man that I am today. I would like to thank my family for molding me to become the person I am today. I would also like to thank Stephanie Goldfarb and Sam Rodin for being great role models and people that I can look up to through my high school career.  

Dream Job? US Senator 

Being Jewish is... a proud part of my identity 

Who is a leader that inspires you?  Barack Obama 

Meet Sarah Gruettner 

Sarah Gruettner

My name is Sarah Gruettner and I'm from Palatine. I attend Fremd High School and my family has belonged to Beth Tikvah Congregation my whole life. I have played soccer for the past twelve years. What initiated my Jewish identity was attending OSRUI. I was a camper there for six summers, and this summer I look forward to being an Avodahnik! My connection also blossomed through my temple’s youth group, in which I have been an active member and leader. I credit NFTY with opening my eyes to social action. I would love to thank my parents for their continuous support, and for the long drives to all of my activities. I’d also like to thank Stacey Lysianov, Brad Egel and Helen Kornick for being the best temple youth advisors, and for helping me find my passion with Judaism. 

Dream Job? My dream job would be working for a Jewish federation like The RAC (Religious Action Center), the URJ (Union for Reform Judaism), or the JUF (Jewish United Fund of Metropolitan Chicago). 

Being Jewish is... everything to me. I have grown so much as a leader and as a person because of the incredible experiences I have had because of my Jewish identity. In addition, Judaism provides me with an amazing community that I cherish every day. I live in a very non-Jewish area, and I've always considered my religious school friends and my friends from URJ OSRUI some of my closest friends. 

Who is a leader that inspires you? One leader who inspires me is Stephanie Goldfarb from the JUF. She has been my leader this year for an internship I’m in called RTI (Research Training Internship). 

Meet Your Honorees: Jake Adler, Ellie Rosenberg, and Tziona Chernoff

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Meet Jake Adler!

Jake Adler

Howdy folks. My name is Jake Adler, and I’m from the small, middle-of-nowhere town of Oswego, Illinois. I am currently a junior at Oswego East High School (a school notorious for literally nothing) where I spend my time involved with the school’s band programs, leading a few small clubs and societies, and doing typical student things- like studying, doing homework, and procrastinating on the two previously listed activities. I spend the bulk of my free time thinking about my next summer OSRUI or maybe thinking about my next event with NFTY or BBYO. Aside from that, you can likely find me working at Schmaltz Deli (the best deli in the Chicagoland area), making a bangin' quesadilla with my handy-dandy toaster oven, or trying to figure out how the new Snapchat update works. I hope to catch you all at the event in April! 

Dream Job: My dream job would be anything in the world of environmental science. Nothing gets me more passionate than being submerged in the natural world and examining the natural beauties of the system that we live within. 

Something most people don’t know about me is... that I definitely prefer soy butter over peanut butter even though I'm not allergic whatsoever.  

Who is a leader that inspires you? I’m personally inspired by one of BBYO’s previous leaders, Joey Greenebaum. Not only did Joey revolutionize the way the South Suburbs functioned as a center for Jewish life, but also he saw hope in the Western Suburbs as we were developing into one of our own. He inspired so many people to be leaders and persist within their communities, and he’s one of the reasons I found my passion within Judaism. 

Meet Ellie Rosenberg!

Ellie Rosenberg

Hello, my name is Ellie Rosenberg. I'm a junior at Evanston Township High School and I spend my summers at the URJ camp OSRUI in Oconomowoc, Wisconsin. I grew up going to Chicago Jewish Day School. This past year, I was a fellow in Diller Teen Fellows and I'm currently part of a weekly Jewish teen learning group. I'm very involved with my school's Israeli club and its Hebrew program, I run cross-country, and I'm part of my school's Speech and Debate team in Extemporaneous Speaking. I also enjoy cooking with my sisters, walking my dog, and going to the beach! I'm thrilled to be an 18 Under 18 Honoree and I would like to thank my wonderful family, caring friends, and the many inspiring leaders in my life from camp, CJDS, Diller, and the Evanston community. 

Dream Job? Environmental Engineer or Behavioral Economist 

Something most people don’t know about me is... one of my goals is to run a marathon in each state and Israel! 

Who is a leader that inspires you? Ruth Bader Ginsburg 

Meet Tziona Chernoff!

Tziona Chernoff

I currently attend Ida Crown Jewish Academy as a Senior. I went to Hillel Torah North Surburban Day School for my Elementary education. I will be going to Israel for a gap year next year, spending my year at Ein Hanatziv. I will then go to NYU for Special Education and Early Childhood Development. I have been volenteering in La Ribida Hostpital for the last year, where on Sunday Mornings I go from room to room spending my time with the patients. I am on the regional board of Young Judaea Midwest as Bogrim Programmer (head of educational programming for 8 through 12 graders).In Young Judaea I have learned a new appreciation for pluralism, and the ability to have to have open conversations with people from all different backgrounds. I was also the head of my high school yearbook. This has taught me a great deal of patient and ability to work with others. I would like to thank my family for there unending support, thank you so much for all you do for me. 

Dream Job? A dream job of mine is training teachers in third world countries how to teach in Special Needs Classrooms.

Something most people don’t know about me is... I have memorized most of Wicked and Hamilton.

Who is a leader that inspires you? Golda Meir 

How a 5 day Trip to NYC Helped my Son Discover his Jewish Identity

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I cannot say enough wonderful things about the  Springboard School Break trip that my son, Jared, attended over President’s Day weekend.  In fact, I have been so vocal about the trip that someone asked me to write about it. 

Let’s back up a bit.  My son Jared is 15 and a freshman in high school. He was s somewhat engaged at Hebrew school through his bar-mitzvah and celebrated holidays with the family, but he never had a real interest in Judaism.  I am a B’nai mitzvah tutor and fairly engaged with multiple congregations, I’ve been to Israel, my daughter is a b’nai mitzvah tutor at our temple, she got confirmed and went on Ta’am Yisrael. Jared did not want to go on Ta’am, or to Jewish overnight camp or join BBYO.  He has been very engaged with Keshet—doing Buddy Baseball, Buddy Bowling and Special Olympics since the year before his mitzvah, but he was resistant to doing anything else. I didn’t want to push it and after a while I stopped telling him about various things that different organizations were offering.   

Springboard NYC

Until, that is, someone told me about a VERY reasonably priced trip through Springboard to NYC over President’s Day weekend.  When I asked Jared about it, he thought on it for a few days and then decided that it sounded like fun. I had only recently heard of Springboard from colleagues that I met while preparing to chaperone Ta’am Yisrael. The Springboard staff was so excited, and I knew that it was going to be a good trip for Jared.  But, I had no idea just HOW good. 

I dropped Jared off at the airport and said a quick goodbye.  He brought his phone on the trip, but I only received few texts while he was gone saying he was having a great time.  NCSY, the organization that ran this Springboard program, kept us updated on Facebook Live so I saw glimpses of the group in New York and everyone seemed to be having a great time. They did a ton of things while they were there, but the highlights he talked about when he got home included going on the Staten Island Ferry; speaking to a NYC police officer about 9/11, spending Shabbat in a NYC hotel, ice skating at Rockefeller plaza and doing tzedakah by sending clothes to Israel. 

Since his return home, he has asked about going on future Springboard trips and joined our local BBYO chapter.  I could not be more thrilled to see him getting involved in the Jewish community. Thank you, Springboard! 

-Mara Heichman, mother of Jared Heichman (Big Apple Adventure 2018 Participant) 

What I Learned from my StandWithUs Internship

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My name is David Levin and I am currently a StandWithUs High School Intern. I live in Highland Park, IL and am a junior at Rochelle Zell Jewish High School.  

The  StandWithUs internship begins in the late summer with a week­long conference in Los Angeles. At the conference the interns are taught various facets of the Israeli/­Palestinian conflict, as well as communication skills to effectively promote Israel. A highlight for me, was meeting high school interns from around the U.S. and Canada. It was really cool and inspiring to meet other kids from around the country who are just as passionate about Israel as I am. I became great friends with many of the other interns and interact with them on a daily basis.  

Stand With Us

The next time all of the interns are together is at the winter conference which is also held in Los Angeles. However, this conference is not only for high school interns, it is for anybody involved with StandWithUs, including college students, philanthropists, professionals, lay leaders and staff. Here, I had the opportunity to interact with world class speakers and experts on Israeli affairs and to see first­hand the extent of StandWithUs’s reach. I also learned what StandWithUs can do to help students both in high school and on college campuses.  

David Levin

Aside from the conference, components of the internship include participating in monthly video­chats to further learn about Israel and to organize StandWithUs events. The internship gave more knowledge about Israel, and new insight into the Israeli­/Palestinian conflict.  It was also a great opportunity to learn new skills organization and professionalism. Through the internship I learned how to coordinate events, manage logistical details, and communicate with individuals in a professional matter.  Most importantly, while I gained a lot of valuable skills, I was also able to have fun and make memories that will last a lifetime.  

Adding Some Jewish To Your Week: Do You Have to Apologize if You Accidentally Make a Mistake?

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If you do something wrong, you're supposed to say you're sorry. But what happens if you accidentally do something wrong- do you still need to apologize? In this week’s Torah Reading, Parshat Vayikra, we hear a lot about the laws of sacrifices, specifically how and what to give in order to atone for different sins. But behind this seemingly outdated concept are some pretty compelling moral principles. Check out what international religious leader, philosopher, award-winning author Rabbi Jonathan Sacks has to say about why our actions are just as important as our words. http://rabbisacks.org/sin-offering-vayikra-5777/

Purim 2018: V'nahafoch Hu!

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Purim is a holiday that is all about switching roles. On Purim, we say "Venahafoch Hu!" (He was switched). In the traditional Purim story, the Jewish people were switched from being victims and defenders. Haman (boo!) was switched from being the king's most trusted advisor to an enemy of the kingdom. Esther and Mordechai were switched from being lowly citizens, to the queen and the king's highest advisor! Thanks to the bravery of Queen Esther and the intelligence of Mordechai, the Jewish people were able to switch from being a people facing destruction at the hands of wicked Haman (boo!) to a people with the power to consider how they should respond to those who wish to do them harm.  On Purim, we celebrate by dressing up in costume in order to switch into a new identity for the day and we are encouraged to switch from regulating our "vices," to eating and drinking to excess.  

Today we celebrate Purim.  What can you do to honor the heroes of our Purim story? Will you switch your dress or daily routine? Stand up and speak out for what you believe in? Try to make social change like Esther and Mordechai? Take some time today to reflect on our Purim story and its heroes, and how we can emulate their behavior to "Venahafoch hu" today! 

Adding Some Jewish into Your Week: Havdalah

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I just returned from a week in Israel staffing Ta'am Yisrael, the Community Foundation for Jewish Education (CFJE)'s trip to Israel for 8th graders.  I had an amazing time exploring Israel with 180 Jewish teens from around the Chicago area. Now all the participants are back in school and the staff are back at work and I've been thinking a lot about how we separate different experiences. How does one return from a week long, intense, immersive, potentially life changing Jewish experience, and jump back into a normal routine? 

My thoughts wandered to the Jewish tradition of Havdalah (the ceremony for ending shabbat) that our group participated in on Saturday night in Israel. Each week, at the end of Shabbat, we thank God and say blessing over wine, spices, and the flame of the havdalah candle. Each of these has significance in the separation between Shabbat and the rest of the week. 

One havdalah custom is to dip your fingers into the wine after the ceremony is over and to put some behind your ears and in your pockets. This symbolic action was created to encourage people smell the sweetness of the wine and carry its sweetness in their pockets all week. By carrying the sweetness of Shabbat with us at all times and it sustains us until the next week.  

Before leaving Israel, my group created our own sort of Havdalah.  We took a moment to recognize and reflect on the differences that would separate our time in Israel from our normal lives at home. We spoke about the experiences we had together, the affect it had on our lives, and on how to bring those experiences home with us.  

Havdalah, like many Jewish customs, was created for a specific purpose but the themes can be used to enhance all our experiences, even those outside of Shabbat. By taking the time to differentiate between different experiences and to reflect on the movement from one experience to another, we can really process what we've learned and achieved, and give each new experience infinitely more meaning in our lives.