Springboard Blog

Springboard Blog

Sophie Frankenthal - a Merit Scholarship Winner

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Earlier this year, when applying to Springboard’s 18 under 18, I was presented with the following question: What is the most important issue/ injustice/ problem facing Jewish teens today? It didn’t take much time, or self-reflection, for me to come up with my answer. This was because there was a specific issue that seemed to engulf me in everyday life, and it is one that I have always been and will continue to be passionate about for the rest of my life.  

I believe in the importance of achieving unity, without enforcing uniformity. In order to accomplish this feat, we must eradicate the practice of labeling one another. Labels can serve as a tool for better understanding and relating to our environments. However, labels can also fuel resentment and a lack of unity. When we use labels to differentiate the ways Jewish people express themselves religiously, we are reducing qualities and spirituality to a mere superficial characteristic, for example the hat one wears or the synagogue where one prays. These actions inadvertently cast judgement and can contribute to the rift that exists between Jewish factions.  

In choosing to study in Israel for a year, it was very important to me to find an institution that recognized the importance of celebrating the various expressions of Judaism that exist within the confines of Jewish law. I wanted to be somewhere that didn’t attempt to dictate a uniform, “cookie-cutter” way of life to its students. I found what I was looking for in Michlelet Mevaseret Yerushalayim (MMY).  

MMY strives to counteract the negative connotations often associated with superficial labels by enabling their students to see the beauty in the varied lifestyles that exist within the Jewish community and ensuring that students understand that there is not one way to be a Torah Jew. Their mission statement explains, “We are deeply committed to the idea that no one form of religious expression is right for everyone.” It is MMY’s belief that coming to such an understanding will enable students to better connect with Judaism, one another, and the land of Israel. After all, by removing the superficial labels, we can stop focusing on our disagreements and start focusing on our shared heritage.  

I am ecstatic to spend the upcoming year learning in MMY, because I will have a chance to study Torah on a deeper level, form a connection with the history of Israel as well as the land itself, grow spiritually, personally, and intellectually. Most importantly, at MMY I will be given the invaluable opportunity to unite with my nation and heritage without feeling the need to conform to a standard way of life or harbor any judgement towards those have views that are different from my own. 

It is my hope that through all the things I will be privileged to gain over the next year, that I will be able to strengthen my own convictions and my own religious expression so that ultimately, there is one label I can proudly display, and that is: A G-d fearing Jew. 

We are proud to offer Israel Experience Merit Scholarships to high school students through age 23 who display leadership abilities and are committed to Jewish communal activities.  Anyone going on a summer or fall/academic year program are eligible to apply each spring.  For more information, please visit our website or contact Jody Slate at Jodyslate@juf.org

Looking for opportunities to go to Israel? Masa can help you get there - for more information contact Alissa Brown at Alissabrown@juf.org

My Hebrew Story by Abby Lapins

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Mia Strubel Iram

From the sign marking “ delet” on my kindergarten Sunday school class, to the door of my cabin in Chalutzim, the OSRUI Hebrew immersion program, Hebrew has been a part of my life for longer than I can remember. When I moved to Stevenson’s school district, I signed up for Hebrew class right away only to be told there wasn’t enough interest to run a class. Devastated, I waited a year and tried again to try to take Hebrew again my sophomore year.  

Lo and behold, the Hebrew program at Stevenson High School was reborn with me, a transfer student from Wisconsin as its number one fan.  Right off the bat I devoted my extra time to helping promote the Hebrew program. I worked closely with our amazing teacher Anna Gorbikoff to make sure our status as a program was known in our community. We spent months working on plans for the Hebrew program’s events partnering with our Club Israel and World’s Fair to make our dreams a reality. Finally, we held our very own event for the whole school, Israel Day, a day where we opened our community to the rest of the school so they could see how unique and special a community united by a common language can be.  But we didn’t stop at Israel Day; if we were capable of pulling off an event like that, who knows what else we are capable of.  

Fast forward another a semester and an official chapter of Hebrew National Honor Society (HNHS) was founded at Stevenson High School. I am personally connected to HNHS in many ways. Not only did I work diligently beside Mrs. Gorbikoff and my peers to bring this to fruition, I also served as the Vice President, and now the President. Truthfully, I couldn’t dream of anything more rewarding.   

I have watched our community go from 17 students from all three levels of Hebrew combined, to at least 17 students in EACH of the three levels currently offered. Our HNHS has grown from eight members with two people on the executive board to 16 general members and a full executive board. I have been there every step of the way, lending a hand, a pencil, or a session of peer tutoring whenever anyone has needed it. This community has given me the chance to be a part of something I couldn’t have dreamed of in a million years. I have learned so much more about the Hebrew language and culture than I ever thought I possibly could. Most importantly, having Hebrew be a part of my life has shown me that it won’t be over with my graduation from high school, that high school is only one chapter in my Hebrew story.