Springboard Blog

Springboard Blog

#RepairTheWorldWednesday with Jessica, Claire, and Ella

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Repair the World Wednesday

We were very fortunate to get to attend the L’taken social justice seminar with The Religious Action Center for Reform Judaism this past January. The Religious Action Center, or RAC for short, advocates on a variety of social justice issues from the perspective of Reform Judaism. One of the amazing programs the RAC has to offer is the L’taken social justice seminar, and it is truly a one of a kind experience. Over the course of the weekend, we attended a variety of sessions to learn about Judaism, advocacy, and social justice issues, toured our way around DC, and lobbied congress. L’taken brings together teens, rabbis, cantors and youth group staff from all across the country who all share a passion for social justice. It felt so special to be with fellow teens from various geographic locations and backgrounds while sharing the commonality of being Jewish and wanting to change the world. One of the other amazing aspects about this weekend is that real change was made. After learning from the sessions and discovering what social justice issue we wanted to focus on, we had the opportunity to put our skills to the test and share them with our congressmen and congresswomen. We even got to meet Senator Tammy Duckworth and lobby to Congressman Brad Schneider himself! 

After attending L’Taken in January, we were so excited to hear that we would be able to extend the connections we made and our advocacy work through the Reform Action Center’s Teen Justice Fellowship. In this program, we attended 5 zoom lessons led by Logan Zinman Gerber, the RAC national teen campaign organizer, where we learned about the importance of voting and what teenagers (who can’t vote yet) can do to still make an impact on the nation. We were taught how good organizing and leadership is essential to get people to take notice of the country’s problems, and how teens are truly the face of change. Understanding why people need to vote and the difference that they can make in an election is necessary in order for our democracy to stay strong. In 2018, voter turnout for 18-29 year olds went from 20 percent in 2014 to 36 percent in 2018, the largest percentage point increase for any age group (79% increase). This extreme increase is promising, but there is still such a long way to go! We are hoping that through small acts of non-partisan encouragement, today’s youth will not only be inspired to vote, but will understand the necessity of voting. 

At the end of our fellowship, we were tasked with organizing a project around the topic of teen involvement in voter registration. We decided to work together in order to create an event for teens at three congregations in our area (Temple Jeremiah, North Shore Congregation Israel, and B’nai Jehoshua Beth Elohim) that traveled to L’Taken together. The reason for this was to encourage a strong community between the teens in the area because many of us don’t know each other, but we all have a passion for social justice and Judaism as well as great ideas that can be shared. That’s what our project is truly about: an opportunity to learn. We want to teach teens in the area how they can advocate for teen voting, even if they can’t vote, as well as how to use their voices for issues they are passionate about. We want teens that come to our event to walk away with the knowledge of the importance of voting and using their voices, as well as resources that they know how to use in order to make their voices heard. 

If you are a highschooler or first time voter and would like to attend our zoom event, we would love to have you! Feel free to reach out to any of us at ebrubenstein@gmail.com , jshade03@gmail.com , and cjschwartz123@gmail.com . If you want to learn more about The Religious Action Center and their L’Taken D.C. trip, visit https://rac.org/ and https://rac.org/2018-2019-ltaken-program-season .

 

Claire is a rising senior at Deerfield High School. She is a board member for her temple youth group, an active member of the Jewish Council on Urban Affairs, and co-founder of her local March for Our Lives chapter. At school, Claire is a member of her swim team and Mathletes team, and she is the co-president of her Girls Coding Club. In the future, Claire hopes to use her knowledge of coding with her passion for social justice to write programs that will help make the world a better place. 

Jessica is a rising junior at Deerfield High School. She is the programming chair of the BJBE teen youth group, and a teaching assistant for the temple’s Sunday school. She has been involved with the Illinois Holocaust Museum Teen Committee and her school’s genocide commemoration day committee as well. Jessica plays on the tennis team and is in the DHS band. She is very passionate about the importance of voting and educating teens on how they can make an impact on the country and world. 

Ella is a rising junior at Glenbrook North High School. She has attended L’taken and participated in different follow up seminars with the RAC both Freshman and sophomore year. Ella proudly serves as the vice president of programming for her BBYO chapter. She also is a member of the StandWithUs teen leadership council, a peer mentor at Special Gifts Theater, a member of JUF’s Voices, involved with her school’s Jewish Student Connection Club, a member of her school's speech team, and an active member of Temple Jeremiah. Ella loves all things Judaism, social action, and community service and looks forward to educating teens on how they can be civically engaged without being able to vote. 

#RepairTheWorldWednesday with Rachel Nasatir and JWalking with JUF Teens

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J-Walking

From a young age, I have been fortunate enough to be very active and connected with the Jewish community of Chicago. I participated in many JUF programs, went to a Jewish day school, and kept up to date with the community. However, during the pandemic, I began realizing the lack of opportunity for city wide engagement within JUF and the teens in Chicago. After discussing some nuances and clique elements of how my friends and I were keeping ourselves busy, all of us were in agreement that going on walks has truly been a blessing during this time. Not only is it a great form of exercise, but the benefits are unparalleled. That is why I decided to create JWalking with JUF, an event where each participant can fundraise based off their mileage goal, whether it be through walking, biking, scooting, or any other type of transportation other than driving. Then, with the money raised, we will be allocating it to the Maot Chitim fund where Passover and high holiday supplies are given to the elderly. I have taken part in Maot Chitim deliveries biannually since the age of 3, and it truly makes such a lasting impact upon the older generations. The other half of the money will be going to Kiwi Kids, an organization founded during these past couple months that focuses on giving all families, Jewish or not, access to healthy, hot, delicious, and certified kosher meals. These two organizations provide immediate support to families affected by this pandemic and would utilize the funds raised by JWalking to an enormous extent. Please join me and gather your friends (make a fun trip out of it!), as we walk, help gather our community, and support the exhausting fight against coronavirus.

To learn more and register click  here.

Rachel Nasatir is the daughter of JUF president Lonnie Nasatir and attends Jones College Prep High School in downtown Chicago. She participates in Write On for Israel, Jewish Student Connection club, The US Holocaust Museum Youth Board, and went to Bernard Zell. She is an avid activist for the Jewish, female, and political community. Rachel is currently working on behalf of a presidential campaign.

#RepairTheWorldWednesday with Camp TOV and Camp Tzedek

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JUF Teens

This #RepairTheWorldWednesday is highlighting the incredible work of Camp TOV and Camp Tzedek, a returning program and new program to the JUF Teens repertoire. Now more than ever, we need to be working to fix fundamental issues in our society and community; we can all do our part. Camp TOV and Camp Tzedek are two programs that can help you do your part in a fun and educational way! 

Camp TOV is a longstanding and central part of JUF Teens. You may be thinking Camp TOV means Camp of good, and while it does a tremendous amount of good, TOV stands for Tikkun Olam Volunteers. During Camp TOV, you will learn about different Jewish values along with a variety of local organizations. There will be hands on impact projects daily that you can participate in. Repairing the World, or Tikkun Olam, is something that can be achieved through making one dog toy, writing a letter to a senior, or helping organize a supply drive for a local organization. Every little bit counts, and through Camp TOV you will be a lot more than a little.  

Camp Tzedek, which is new to JUF Teens, is a program that is packing a whole lot of philanthropic education into a week-long camp. You will learn about social justice issues facing our community, how to read grant proposals, and ultimately allocate out over $7,000 to local organizations! Because Camp Tzedek is virtual this year, it is committed to building connections between teens from around the country, so sign up with a camp friend, family member, or get ready to make new friends who are also passionate about philanthropy.  

There are so many ways to do our part during this difficult time. Whether taking individual initiative and starting your own organization, donating to a food drive, supporting local businesses, or signing up for one of these incredible camps, opportunities to do good are out there! If you want to learn more about Camp TOV or Camp Tzedek send contact us and we can answer all your questions.  


Springboard Celebrates 2020 18 Under 18 Honorees

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As part of this year’s 18 Under 18 program, each honoree designed an Impact Project where they elevated an issue of importance to their peers, parents, clergy, Jewish professionals or community members. Each honoree also laid the groundwork for a long-term plan or took at least one action toward addressing their chosen issue. The honorees have persevered despite the difficult circumstances presented by COVID-19, and continue to work to strengthen the Jewish community. As you flip through the pages of the Recognition Book, which shares more about each of the honorees, elevates their stories and showcases the ways in which they are making a difference in our community, you’ll have the opportunity to get to know these 18 inspiring teens. Click here to hear from some of our honorees about the incredible work they've done.


Gwen Tucker

Gwen writes for her school’s newspaper and is a board member of SOAR (Students Organized Against Racism). Through her work with RTI (Research Training Internship) and JCUA (Jewish Council on Urban Affairs), her Jewish identity has become central to her passion for social justice.


Hannah Adams

Hannah is a leader of Jewish Student Connection, financial chair of Model United Nations, operations & outreach chair of the economics team, founder of mindFULL (a club that promotes the accessibility of wellness and healthy food), and a varsity lacrosse player. Hannah is a madricha at the Anshe Emet Religious School, and she has also spent the past 7 summers at OSRUI.


Josh Pogonitz

Josh has been on both his school’s cross country and basketball teams all four years of high school. Through working on his own mental illnesses, and rediscovering happiness last year, he has learned that though there are still struggles in life, it is okay to not be okay and that it is okay to make mistakes. In November of 2019, Josh spoke at No Shame On U’s annual event about his journey through mental health.


Lena Bromberg

Lena plays on her school’s volleyball team, organizes visits to a nearby retirement home, and participates in several other clubs. Most of Lena’s free time is spent babysitting. She has spent the past five summers as a camper at Camp Ramah in Wisconsin.

#RepairTheWorldWednesday with Sophie Levitt and Rachel Harris

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The Research Training Internship (RTI) is a 10-month Jewish feminist research cohort for teen girls and non-binary teens.  Each year, the group researches a social justice topic facing the Chicago area Jewish community to bring awareness and action to that issue. This year’s group explored marginalized and privileged identities within the Jewish community. This work is more important than ever; it is actively altering peoples opinions and understand of the world which is changing the world step by step. What follows is an excerpt from this year’s report written by Sophie Levitt and Rachel Harris, two of this year’s interns. They chose to research race and ethnicity within our local community. 

“The Jewish community is not a monolith. There are multitudes of identities. Yet, there aren’t many active efforts to include these identities. We explored race and ethnicity and how it affects people’s abilities to participate and identify with the Jewish community. In doing so, we wanted to bring more awareness to the intersectionality in our community and better suit everyone’s needs to make it more inclusive. Continue reading to see what we discovered. 

Our research first started off with a survey to get a handle on if, and how, people of color and non-Ashkenazi participate in and identify with the Jewish community. We received 137 responses. Of those responses, 27 people identified themselves as people of color and/or non-Ashkenazi. Our specific focus was how White, Ashkenazi Jews and non-White, non-Ashkenazi Jews lives differed. The biggest difference was found in synagogue attendance. 67% of White, Ashkenazi people attend synagogue, while 48% of non-White, non-Ashkenazi people attend synagogue. These differences can be found throughout the survey, in places like camps, community centers, and organizations. It is clear that participation differs between White, Ashkenazi Jews and non-White, non-Ashkenazi Jews. The lack of participation means that not everybody is being represented in Jewish spaces. Whether it is a cause or a consequence, racism is directly tied into this lack of representation. 50% of people say they have seen racism occur in the Jewish community. Anecdotal evidence from non-White, non-Ashkenazi Jews shows this in glaring detail. 

The second part of our research, interviews, solidified our understanding that there was a problem in the Jewish community surrounding race and ethnicity. Some of our interviewees talked about the connection they had to the Jewish community, but they all talked about being “othered”. Time and time again, their Judaism was called into question by fellow Jews. Non-White, non-Ashkenazi Jews were not made welcome. The racism and exclusion we saw spurred us to action. Our work brings light to and tries to remedy the attitudes and behaviors of the Jewish community.”

We invite you to our virtual community presentation July 13 to learn more about Sophie and Rachel’s research as well as the other topics covered in this year’s report.  Please RSVP here: https://tinyurl.com/RTIPresentation6 

#RepairTheWorldWednesday with Cycle Forward and Sophie Draluck

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Cycle Forward

Why is it that we feel a need to hide our tampons up our sleeves like some kind of contraband as we sneak off to the bathroom at school or work? And why is it that we whisper about our periods to our friends for fear of being overheard? When women menstruate, historically, we view that as something to be ashamed of, something that is handled in private—just one of those things we don’t really talk about. My name is Sophie Draluck, and I am here to talk about it. I am here to discuss menstruation openly and proudly in an effort to shed the stigma that often surrounds our periods, and to address the lack of access to menstrual products that far too many women around the world face. According to data from the International Federation of Gynecology and Obstetrics, 500 million people experience “period poverty” around the world, or in other words, do not have access to menstrual products. Globally, period poverty causes millions of women and girls to miss work or school, and in many cases, drop out altogether. Because of the harmful stigma surrounding menstruation, most people are not even aware that period poverty is a pervasive issue across the entire world.  

I did not learn of this glaring issue until 2017, after reading an article in the Chicago Tribune about teens in Uganda missing a week of school a month because they lacked access to menstrual products. As I dug deeper, I discovered that this lack of access isn’t just a problem facing women in remote African villages, but that the problem is global. Even in my “comfortable” hometown of Highland Park, I learned that women are struggling to afford menstrual products due to their high cost and unattainability through food pantries and government assistance programs, and when I met with my local food pantry, I discovered that menstrual products were among the most requested, yet least donated items. 

Deeply disturbed by these realities,, I set out to tackle period poverty by starting Cycle Forward (www.cycleforwardnow.org), a non-profit aimed at empowering women and girls by promoting menstrual equity, or equal access to period products. Cycle Forward creates a positive and immediate impact by collecting in-kind and cash donations that are used to fund the bulk purchase of menstrual  products, which we then distribute to women in need through food pantries, shelters, and other organizations that directly serve under-resourced women and teens. So far, we have donated over 75,000 tampons and pads across the Chicago area, Florida, U.K., India, and Haiti. Cycle Forward also seeks to reduce the negative stigma surrounding periods by educating others about period poverty through events and speaking engagements and by encouraging open dialogue about periods and menstrual inequity.  

As a way to increase awareness and to empower more women and teens, Cycle Forward launched a High School Outreach project this year, partnering with school service clubs, and working with them to hold a period product drive for a local pantry. Organizing a school or community period product drive to support your local food pantry is a great way to get involved and ensure that women and teens in your area have the access to menstrual products they need to fully participate in their communities. Please know that Cycle Forward and I stand ready to work with you to help launch a project! 

Because raising awareness is so essential to making progress, I’m especially grateful to announce my receipt of a 2020 Diller Teen Tikkun Olam Award! Tikkun Olam means “to repair the world,” and the Tikkun Olam Awards are given annually to Jewish teen leaders committed to addressing the most pressing challenges in their communities. I’m excited at the opportunity this award gives me to grow as an activist and to continue working to achieve menstrual equity. You can learn more about @dillerteenawards and the other powerful young changemakers making a difference in their communities as this year’s awardees at  https://www.dillerteenawards.org/  Additionally, to keep up with our fight for menstrual equity or to join us in becoming part of the solution, please follow us on Instagram @cycleforwardnow or email me at cycleforwardnow@gmail.com for more information. And remember, when girls win, we all win, even if it’s by one boldly displayed tampon at a time.