Blog with Springboard

The Springboard blog highlights the experiences of Jewish teens and Jewish teen professionals participating in community programs across Chicagoland and beyond. Dive into blogs about different Jewish teen events, leadership programs, trip opportunities, and more! Join us in celebrating the unique perspectives and contributions of Jewish teens and professionals in the Jewish community. To post a blog, please email

Springboard Blog

Springboard Blog

From Honoree to Nominator

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Dear Springboard blog,

Hi! My name is Naomi Altman and I am a freshman at Emory University. I was pretty involved in Springboard when I was in high school. In 2020, I was chosen as one of Chicagoland’s 18 Under 18 Honorees. I gained so much from the honor and mentorship that I received so I decided to nominate Josie. While I knew Josie for a long time since we both attended Bernard Zell Anshe Emet Day School, I only really got to know her this year. I was her Junior Counselor for Diller Teen Fellows and right off the bat noticed that she had a clear passion for Tikkun Olam and natural leadership abilities. As her JC in Diller, I saw her volunteer to take on responsibilities and act as a role model to the other fellows.

Naomi Altman Group 1

Naomi Altman Group 2

I knew that Josie had the drive and passion necessary to receive the honor and follow through with a great impact project which is why I decided to nominate her. Being able to nominate someone was an amazing experience especially after being an honoree myself. Being an 18 Under 18 honoree impacted my life in so many ways so having the opportunity to impact someone else meant so much to me. Throughout the year, I was able to see Josie grow and become even more confident as a leader. Her impact project, where she led donation drives to the Lakeview pantry and the Greater Chicago food depository inspired me a lot and I know that she impacted many people. I am so proud of her and can't wait to see what else she does.

Naomi Altman Photo

About the Author:

Naomi Altman is a current freshman at Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia where she plans on studying economics. She was very involved with Springboard and participated in Diller Teen Fellows as a fellow and a Junior Counselor, Research Training Internship (RTI), Springboard Peer Ambassadors, and received the 18 Under 18 award. She also received a Springboard Innovation Grant for her organization:  Messages From the Past: Never Forget

Why I Was Inspired to Nominate Jacob for 18 Under 18 By Laura Siegel Perpinyal

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About the prompt: 18 Under 18 is always a special process and a great opportunity for people in the community to highlight teens who uniquely live out their values as leaders and changemakers in the community. Are you thinking about nominating an incredible teen for this year's 18 Under 18? If so, check out Laura's blog post to read why she nominated Jacob and his profound impact on his community. 

Nominate an exceptional 9-12th grader by Friday, September 30th at 5:00 PM HERE. Nominators can be teens, Jewish professionals or community members. Nominations made by teens themselves or by family members will NOT be accepted.

Jacob Photo 1

I first got to know Jacob well as a student in our Temple Chai school program. It was clear that he loved learning, but in addition, had a special ability to support students helping them to learn to read Hebrew and to prepare for becoming Bar or Bat Mitzvah. For the past four years, Jacob has been a madrich, a student volunteer in our school, working in the 5th grade class as well as a Bar or Bat Mitzvah tutor, working one on one with dozens of students to prepare for this meaningful Jewish lifecycle experience. Jacob’s commitment to our community didn’t stop there. Two years ago, Jacob joined the Social Action Committee of our congregation. He is the only student on our adult committee, and yet, he attends meetings regularly, contributes ideas and has been instrumental in planning 3 Mitzvah Days.  Jacob has been a leader within our community, organizing and leading programming in front of large audiences and for various ages of participants. He even pivoted and lead a virtual Mitzvah Day this past January when our community went virtual due to the rising COVID cases. 

Jacob Photo 2

Jacob Photo 3

I am incredibly proud of Jacob!  He was a natural fit for Springboard’s 18 under 18, which created such a special opportunity to broaden his positive impact. Jacob chose to combine his passions through his project collecting devices like computers and laptops to be donated to those in need.  Not only is he a serious and dedicated student, but he is a compassionate leader that looks to support others with deep care and sensitivity. Jacob exemplifies leadership and commitment to social action, by working towards making a better tomorrow for his Jewish community and the world! 

Laura Perpinyal

About the Author: Laura Siegel Perpinyal has been the Director of Congregational Learning at Temple Chai since 2011. Under her leadership, the school was accredited by the Association of Reform Jewish Educators (ARJE) in 2018. Laura has been active in the national leadership of the ARJE serving as a Board Member since 2021 and has served as Development Co-chair and Advocacy Team Leader. She also served as President of the Chicago Area Reform Jewish Educators (CHARJE) from 2017-2021. 

Laura also loves spending time with Temple Chai students at Olin Sang Ruby Union Institute (OSRUI) where she serves as Faculty over the summers. Laura attended Indiana University where she graduated with Honors with degrees in Jewish Studies and Political Science. In 2009 Laura graduated from Hebrew Union College- Jewish Institute of Religion with Joint Masters Degrees in Jewish Education and Jewish Non-Profit Management. Laura and her husband in Northbrook, IL with their two children.

Kayla’s Craft Closet Spreads the Power of Art around Chicagoland

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Hi Springboard blog,

Last year I chosen as one of Chicagoland’s 18 Under 18 Honorees. I received this honor for my involvement and work in the Jewish community and specifically for my organization, Kayla’s Craft Closet (KCC). 

Kaylas Craft Closet

Since I was little, I have loved art and I am passionate about accessibility to art for all children. Unfortunately, so many youth that come from underserved backgrounds do not get to experience the power of art. For me, art is a respite. It is my safe space. And it is upsetting that there are children my age who are unable to benefit from art and creativity like I have been able to. Whether it be beading a bracelet or painting with watercolors on a canvas, art has always been the vehicle in which I express myself and I would not be the person that I am today without it.

I started Kayla’s Craft Closet (KCC) as a way to spread the power of art around Chicagoland and to make arts and crafts accessible to all young people, regardless of their socioeconomic status. I do this by donating bins of high-quality art supplies to organizations that serve underserved youth and creating a space for creativity. 

For my impact project as an 18 Under 18 honoree, I expanded Kayla’s Craft Closet to additional locations throughout Chicago. Throughout my project, I have been able to witness firsthand the effect that art has had on others. When I have collected and donated art supplies in the past, it has been so rewarding to see kids get lost in their creativity; their faces light up and they can’t erase their beaming grins. Every time that I receive pictures of the youths’ artwork and their wide smiles, the flame of passion for art within me turns brighter. Therefore, I made it my mission to donate as many KCCs as possible to organizations and youth centers throughout the greater Chicagoland community. 

Although I create all of the Craft Closets on my own, I built one with the Jewish community at last year’s 18 Under 18 celebration. As someone who has such a close relationship to her community, I wanted them to be a part of one of my donations. After the celebration, I had a bin filled with donated art supplies that I was then able to donate to an impactful organization. It meant to much to me that I was able to involve my community in my project.

A year later, I have been able to deliver over 15 Craft Closets to youth centers across Chicagoland and I hope that the number continues to grow.


About the Author

Kayla, an Ida Crown Jewish Academy senior, is committed to Chesed and making a difference in her community. At school, Kayla is the co-captain of her school’s student first responder team, Hugo’s Heroes; she is on the leadership board for ICJA’s Israel Advocacy club; and she is the co-president of her school’s charity club, Interact-HOPE (Helping Other People Everywhere). She is also a group leader for Student to Student, a peer education program, and is on the student government executive board. Kayla is an editor and writer for her school’s newspaper and the editor-in-chief of her school’s literary magazine. Outside of school, Kayla is a StandWithUs Leventhal intern as well as a member of the Voices Alumni Board, the Chicago Yachad Board president, and she is on the Illinois Holocaust Museum Teen Leadership Board. Kayla is the founder of Kayla’s Craft Closet (KCC), a nonprofit with the goal of making arts and crafts accessible to all youth despite their socioeconomic status.  As a part of KCC, Kayla delivers craft closets to youth groups with the purpose of promoting creativity and emotional expression.