Springboard Blog

Springboard Blog

Project Teen-Seed613 Cohort 3 Launch Night By: Stephanie Levitt

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I looked out at the audience, seeing everybody’s interested eyes and warm smiles, as I clenched my notecard and rehearsed my lines in my head.  

It was Launch Night for Project Teen-Seed613, something my cohort and I looked forward to for seven months. For seven months, we attended seminars and worked tirelessly on our projects.  

It all came down to this presentation. The public needed to like our idea so that all our hard work would be worth it.  

My group gave our presentation on an app my group designed called Savr and it felt like the quickest seven minutes of my life. Our goal was to reduce food waste by providing customers with ways to track the food they have in their house so that they can use that food before it expires or find an environmentally-friendly use for it if it’s past expiration.  

When my presentation was over and I was back in my front row seat, I felt an overwhelming calmness inside me, as my mind floated back to the first meeting of the third cohort of Project Teen-Seed613 - I walked into the room, nervous and excited to meet the other girls and jump right into the program. When I met the other girls, I knew I was welcomed and appreciated for being my true self, which is unfortunately not common in our society today.  

When I came back to the reality of Launch Night, I was captivated by the other two presentations. We also had the opportunity to hear from an inspiring Jewish female entrepreneur who shared her wealth of knowledge for younger generations. 

As I listened to all three of these presentations, I realized how lucky I was to be in a room full of people that wanted to support me, my ideas, and this program. I realized that not everyone gets the opportunity to join a program like Project Teen-Seed613, but at JCC Chicago, they make sure that every teen in the program has the time of their lives over seven short months.   

Project Teen-Seed613 empowers Jewish teen girls to work together to identify challenges in the community and create solutions, whether big or small, that will make a meaningful difference. Fellows will practice innovative problem solving, critical thinking and human-centered design project design, discuss pressing social issues, learn business skills such as marketing, fundraising and budgeting tactics, and create community among peers. 

Applications are now open for Cohort 4 (November 2019-May 2020)! For more information and to apply, visit www.jccchicago.org/teenseed613 or contact Julie at jminor@jccchicago.org


Remembering the Past to Appreciate the Present by Sam Grobart

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Yesterday was Yom Hazikaron (Memorial Day) and today is Yom Haatzmaut (Independence Day) in Israel. Yom Hazikaron is a day dedicated to remembering and honoring the fallen soldiers of the IDF and victims of terror. By nature, this is an unbelievably somber day. Because Israel is a small country with mandatory army service, every Israeli is affected. If you don’t personally know someone who has given their life, you know someone who does.

Yom Hazikaron is marked by a siren that is blasted at two different times. It is heard throughout the country and when it sounds, everyone and everything comes to a stop. Cars on the highway pull over, conversations in the street stop, schools and businesses come to a halt. People stop, stand, and reflect. TV channels broadcast the names and pictures of all who have fallen defending the State of Israel. Click this link to see for yourself.

Today, I remember my friend Tuvia Yanai Weissman. Yanai and I served together in the Point Company of our Battalion. While off-duty, 21-year-old Yanai, was fatally injured when he fought, unarmed, against two Palestinian terrorists who attacked shoppers in a supermarket. He was shopping with his wife and newly born daughter, making sure they had a full fridge as he prepared to leave for another few weeks in the army. With no time to think, Yanai left his wife and daughter and ran into the unknown with only courage as his weapon. After Yanai was killed, we lit a candle every day in his memory, and no matter what base we were at, continued to have a vigil with his picture and a candle. His memory and legacy will continue to shine. 

Tuvia Weissman

Pictured: Staff Sgt. Tuvia Yanai Weissman, 21.

Immediately following Yom Hazikaron is Yom Haatzmaut, a day where we celebrate the independence of the modern State of Israel. In contrast to the somberness of the preceding day, Yom Haatzmaut is filled with massive parties, concerts, and events all throughout the country, like 4th of July Celebrations here in America. From the outside looking in, having the saddest day of the year followed by the happiest may seem puzzling. How is it that one can mourn a son, daughter, or sibling’s death one day, and the next be celebrating in the streets with friends?

The answer is simple: there is no other choice.

Throughout our history suffering, sacrifice, loss and hardship has led to experiences of joy and elation. One perspective is that we need the periods of “bad” to recognize “good”. This perspective, and the belief that we need to be able to move past difficult periods, is the definition of resiliency. To be a Jew or an Israeli is to be resilient. When we fall, we get back up. When others say impossible, we say possible. When we experience hardship and loss, we carry it with us forever, but continue to move forward. When we think of loss, we know that life is around the corner. There is no Yom Haatzmaut celebration without Yom Hazikaron. The joy of Yom Haatzmaut is not possible without the pain Yom Hazikaron. Let us celebrate the State of Israel while remembering the price paid to get here.

Thanks to you we are here - בזכותכם אנחנו פה

My Hebrew Story by Noam Zetouni

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My name is Noam Zetouni and I am a senior at Deerfield High School. My earliest connection to Israel and the Hebrew language stems from having been born in Israel. I only lived there for two brief years but continued to speak Hebrew at home and to celebrate the Israeli culture and traditions. In Chicago I began preschool at Gan Yeladim and later attended Solomon Schechter, a private Jewish day school, from kindergarten through 8th grade. My love for Israel was strengthened through my experiences at Schechter and my annual visits back to Israel. 

The decision to take Hebrew in high school was an easy one, and it was probably the best decision I ever made. Because I was already fluent in the language, I began in Hebrew III Honors and smoothly worked my way to Hebrew V Honors. I also took on the role of President of the Hebrew Honors Society where I helped recruit more students into our program. Additionally, I joined Israel Club board and planned fun events that attract dozens of students the club each month. Because I had surpassed the highest level of the Hebrew program as a Junior, my teacher took me on as a Senior Teacher. I now co-teach the Freshmen Hebrew class  with her and share my passion for the language with my students. 

Beyond my familiarity with the material, I enjoy Hebrew at my high school because it places me in a community with people who share my love for Israel. Our Hebrew program focuses on more than just the language itself. It carries with it the Israeli culture. We have culture days once a week where we enjoy food, watch Israeli films, listen to Israeli music, and play games in Hebrew. This tradition is envied amongst those not taking Hebrew, so we even put on an annual Israeli Culture Day for the entire school where countless students are exposed to the opportunity to take Hebrew. Our flourishing program represents more than just a fun class. It showcases the increased popularity of young people’s pride to be Jewish and to reflect the importance of their Jewish identities. 

I am pleased with the Hebrew program that I have helped build and will continue expressing my love for Israel beyond high school. The language connects me with Jews around the world and the Israeli experience has enhanced my passion for the culture. Hopefully, through Hebrew in the High, more people can foster the same love I have for Israel and the same desire to pass it onto others.