Springboard Blog

Springboard Blog

Apply to be a Hebrew in the High Ambassador Today!

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I have met some of you at the Chicagoland Jewish Festival, others at Mini Camp TOV, and some of you’ve I’ve only interacted with through this blog. I hope to meet more of you in person soon!  Today, I wanted to share how I became such a strong advocate for learning Hebrew.   

The Hebrew language has played an important role throughout my life. From an early age I was surrounded by Hebrew, but honestly, it wasn't until I got to high school that it gained meaning. While taking Hebrew at Deerfield High School I got my first window into Hebrew as a modern language, spoken by real people, in a way that I could relate to. I went on to take Hebrew in college and became fluent while serving in the Israel Defense Forces. My passion for Hebrew truly started during my Hebrew program at Deerfield High School.   

Today my positive feelings towards high school Hebrew come full circle, as I now get to support teens who are taking Hebrew in their public high schools professionally. I would like to invite any teen who is a current public high schooler taking Hebrew to become an Ambassador for Hebrew in the High. Hebrew in the High will allow students to take more ownership over their experience in Hebrew and to increase the level of meaning that they get out of their classes by helping to grow their awesome programs. 

Ambassadors will attend monthly meetings. They will develop critical leadership and public speaking skills by presenting their stories to various audiences throughout the community. Additionally, Ambassadors will host Hebrew-themed events throughout the year. This new and exciting initiative kicks off at beginning of the upcoming school year, so make sure to reach out to me if you are interested!  

TLDR  (Too Long Didn’t Read) 

Who: Are you a current public high school student taking Hebrew? 

What: Become a Hebrew in the High Ambassador  

Where: Monthly meetings at a location near you 

Why: Gain valuable leadership skills, connect with other Hebrew students, eat awesome food, and earn money for the work you do! 

If you or someone you know is interested in becoming a leader for their Hebrew program, please contact Sam Grobart at 312-357-4982 or at samuelgrobart@juf.org

A Thank You Letter to All the Teens I Never Got to Meet

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I have a kind of weird riddle: You may have never heard of me, but I have heard of you. Your parents probably call me more than they call your teachers. I know what you did last summer and have ideas about how you may want to spend your school break. I know your name, but I don’t know your face. Who am I? 

The answer to the riddle is that I am Amanda and for the past two years I have been the Teen Engagement Coordinator for Springboard. I work behind the scenes at Springboard supporting the team’s strategy and execution.  I make sure that we have food and swag wherever we go, that programs are filled and run smoothly, and most recently I purchased a balloon wall. In short, I have an amazing and ever-changing job! While I don’t always get to meet the teens we work with, I still feel like I have gotten to know you. I helped your parents sign you up for your first Springboard School Break, I saw you honored and in attendance at 18 under 18, and I heard the Teen Engagement Specialists share their excitement as you explored new Jewish experiences and deepen your connection within the Chicagoland Jewish community. Sometimes I even got to run the Springboard Instagram account and that’s probably where I got to know you best.   

Sadly for me, this summer I will be leaving the Springboard team to move to Boston. Before I go, I wanted to take over the Springboard blog for the first and last time to say a THANK YOU to our Springboard Teens! 


Thank you for getting to know Springboard and for joining us on some awesome school break experiences. In the last three years we have sent 238 Chicagoland teens all over the country to enjoy fun and meaningful, Jewish experiences led by incredible community partners. 

Thank you for letting me learn from you. I learned more about finstagram, flash-tats, pop sock-its, Polaroids, snapchat streaks, bottle flipping, and live streams than I ever imagined. But more importantly, I learned that teens today are the most inspiring leaders we have. I don’t get the chance to interact with you very often, but when I do, I’m impressed by your passion, energy and commitment to the things that you believe in.   

When I was a teenager we were called the “Leaders of Tomorrow.” Through you, I have come to understand why everyone says you can, and should be, the leaders of today. So even though I have never met most of you, thank you for letting me support you on your journey to becoming the amazing young adults I know you will be.  

To all of our non-teen readers: If you are passionate about teen programming and engagement, please consider applying to be Springboard’s next Teen Engagement Coordinator. Through my work behind-the-scenes, I grew as a Jewish professional and developed critical skills necessary for advancing my goal of helping more teens find connection within the Jewish community.  I have learned so much that I cannot fit into this blog and I am happy to share it with you. Feel free to contact me and I can talk to you for a really long time about how much I love my job and my co-workers.  

Team Springboard

Let me say one last thank you to our Springboard community. I will miss you! 

Oh, the Places You'll Go!

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This past week, 40 teens traveled around the Chicagoland area with Mini Camp TOV to volunteer, make new friends, and learn about what it means to give back to their community. Mini Camp TOV is a two-day program that takes Jewish teens to participate in a variety of hands-on volunteering projects. From combating hunger and homelessness to brightening a sick child's day, Mini Camp TOV is a unique opportunity to make a difference. 


Mini Camp TOV participants knew they would be hopping around to different volunteer projects, but they had no idea what was in store for them! Since the Springboard Team was lucky enough to staff part of this program, we asked some of the teens about their favorite activities! 

"I liked going to The Ark because it was interesting to see what kind of people come there and why they come there. I also enjoyed Feed My Starving Children because we got to work as a group together to help kids who don't have food." -Dylan 

"We liked Feed my Starving Children because it was collaborative. We were having fun and working at the same time. Time flew by!" -Emily and Jami 

"The Ronald McDonald House was fun because we got to take care of helping to dispose of mattresses, but then also got to spend some time roaming around and checking out the place!" -Nathan 

"Feed my Starving Children was my favorite place because I like how we were able to work as hard as possible, and then in the end see how many people we were able to help." -Avery 

For the week-long version of this program, check out Camp TOV later this summer! Email arielrosen@juf.org for more information. 

Meet Sam: Springboard’s Newest Teen Engagement Specialist

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Samuel Grobart

Tell us a little about yourself. 

I grew up in Deerfield, IL, and went to Deerfield High School. I have a bachelor’s degree in History from Elon University. Following college, I decided to make Aliyah to Israel through Garin Tzabar and served for two years in the Israel Defense Forces. Additionally, I love everything sports, and I’m a passionate Chicago sports fan, especially when it comes to cheering for the Bulls who will one day rise to dominance once again!  

Why are you excited to be a Teen Engagement Specialist at Springboard? 

Growing up in the Chicago Jewish community, I experienced just how impactful Jewish programs can be. I was highly involved with BBYO in high school, and this let me explore and grow as a leader, both in and outside of the Jewish community.  My goal as a Teen Engagement Specialist is to help more teens to get involved in the plethora of Jewish organizations and activities that are available for teens throughout the Chicagoland area. My excitement for this role stems from a genuine passion for Jewish teen programming, experiencing it myself growing up and knowing how it can greatly impact others. 

What are some things you enjoy doing in your free time?

First and foremost, I am a huge sports fan. I love everything sports and competition related. I am a die-hard Chicago sports fan. Additionally, after my experience in the Israeli army, I love to work out and participate in outdoor activities. Chicago is such a great place to be, especially in the summer, so I try and be outdoors as much as possible. Finally, being away for so long has made me appreciate family time that much more, so I love spending time at home.  

What is your favorite type of food or cuisine? 

Another thing anyone who meets me will quickly find out is that I’m a “foodie”. Both Israel and America are amazing places for food enthusiasts. Probably my favorite cuisine would be Israeli/Mediterranean. Authentic Israeli shawarma (sorry Naf Naf and Roti), is my kryptonite. There were many times when I was in the army that I found myself eating a shawarma on my way from or to base, at all hours of the day and night.  

What do you hope to gain by being a Teen Engagement Specialist? 

As cliché as it sounds, I hope to make a positive difference in the lives of teens throughout the area. I believe in the saying “You are a product of the experiences you’ve gone through". I understand the pressures of growing up in the Chicagoland area and for me, many of the experiences that shaped me were in Jewish programming. It is my goal to leverage my experiences to support high schoolers across the Chicagoland region.  

What is the farthest place you have traveled and what was your experience like? 

After I finished the army, I followed in the steps of many Israeli’s and went on a month-long trip! I traveled throughout Eastern Europe and India for several weeks. By far, India was the most different place I have been to. Whether it was the sites of over-crowded Mumbai or the flavors and tastes of food I never even knew existed, it was such an awesome experience from start to finish.  

What is your favorite memory as a Jewish teen in Chicago? 

Serving on the BBYO Greater Midwest Region Regional Board as the Outreach VP was an amazing opportunity for me. As the Outreach VP, it was my responsibility to grow and expand BBYO’s footprint in previously untapped areas. That included my physically driving out to the Southern and Western Chicago suburbs and to engage and attract Jewish teens from those areas. Seeing my successes was such a gratifying feeling, knowing that the work I did encouraged more teens to become involved not only with BBYO, but with Jewish programming in general!