Springboard Blog

Springboard Blog

A Civil Rights Encounter Never to Be Forgotten

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Five Teens

I could have sworn I was at a Holocaust memorial.

The National Memorial for Peace and Justice in Montgomery, AL is a powerful reminder of generations of violence waged in our country.  And the Legacy Museum that accompanies it gives voice to the stories of oppression that have scarred our nation’s history.  Both serve to inspire a new era of justice and peace, underscoring the need for partnerships across race and religion.

That’s why I’m so excited to work with Pastor Joyce Hatch of New Mount Pilgrim Missionary Baptist Church on the Civil Rights Encounter.  Jewish teens of all races and members of a historic African American church on Chicago’s west side will explore the history of the Civil Rights movement and its meaning for all Americans today.  

Here are a few highlights we’re most excited about:

16th St. Baptist Church in Birmingham, AL

—The site of the infamous attack that left four girls dead, one child scarred for life, and a nation forever changed.

 

Temple Mishkan Israel in Selma, AL

—Half a mile from the famous Edmund Pettus Bridge, the local leaders of this temple offer a historical account of the dilemmas facing Southern Jews during the 1950s and 1960s.

The Freedom Rides Museum in Montgomery, AL

—A passionate educator offers a vivid retelling of the dramatic efforts of the Freedom Riders in the preserved Greyhound bus station where the major action took place.

Ebenezer Baptist Church and The Temple in Atlanta, GA

—Two prominent houses of worship that will give participants the opportunity to pray and reflect on the relationships they’ve built, the history they’ve encountered, and the commitments they’re ready to make.

Pastor Hatch and I are thrilled to offer this opportunity to Chicago-area teens, and we look forward on embarking on this one-in-a-lifetime journey with you.


Daniel Kirzane is the associate rabbi at Oak Park Temple in Oak Park, IL.   Oak Park Temple is a progressive, near-urban Reform congregation dedicated to expansive welcoming of people of all backgrounds.  Rabbi Kirzane is an alum of the Wexner Graduate Fellowship and the CLAL: Rabbis Without Borders Fellowship, he is on the rabbinic cabinet of T’ruah: The Rabbinic Call for Human Rights, and he serves in alumni leadership positions for the Wexner Graduate Fellowship and the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion.


It's College Road Trip Season! By Kyle Kolling

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College Road Trip Season

Picking a college is never an easy decision. Currently there are around 7,690 colleges and universities across the United States. Each of these have their own unique courses of study, ways of doing things, class sizes, extra curriculars, and hundreds of other variables that make them each unique in their own set of ways. Because you will spend a period of your life in these universities and colleges, it is important to find one that fits who you are, and where you want to be.

Although you can do some great research online, you never truly know what feels the best for you, and where you feel that you belong until you can be somewhere in person. This is why I believe that the College Road Trip can be so incredibly meaningful and helpful for all prospective college students before they make their decision. On this trip you will see a variety of universities, including but not limited to Indiana University, University of Michigan, Penn State University and Ohio State University. At each of these schools you will get an official tour led by student leaders, you will meet with admissions counselors, scholarship officers, and many more professionals along the way. Not only will we learn about the universities, but we will explore Jewish life on each of these campuses. For example, throughout this program we will learn about Hillel, Chabad, birthright, and many other Jewish organizations to help you find a strong and supportive Jewish community at school.

Finally, each night after our college visits we will explore the local college towns. We may go to a sports game, go bowling, a movie, or just hang out at the hotel pool. No matter what, you will meet a group of Jewish teens that are all going through the same process that you are! Who knows, you may even meet your future college roommate!

My Jewish Community by Sammy Kasselman

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In the spirit of Thanksgiving, Sammy Kasselman shares how thankful she is for the Jewish community she found for herself through Hillel was. While transitions are hard for everyone, finding people who make us feel at home make everything easier. Whether it is going from 8th grade to high school, starting at a new camp, attending an after-school club for the first time, or graduating high school and starting college, the Jewish community is there for you.  

_________________________________________________________________________ 

Researchers say the greatest determinant of Jewish continuity is having a Jewish community. Although it took me until college to find one; I couldn’t be happier that I finally did. 

A few weeks after I attended the Freshman Shabbat Dinner at Hillel, I realized that I had a special connection with the girls I sat with. If you’re anything like me, you probably don’t FaceTime someone after one conversation. But this time I didn’t even think twice as I put my high school’s motto to the test and truly embraced the awkward. I FaceTimed these 3 girls because I couldn’t wait to tell them I found an open dorm room on their floor and I was moving in. I still remember them sprinting down the hall to show me how close my room would be to theirs. While this was touching, I still had no idea how close we would become as friends. 

As weekly Shabbat dinner attendees for 2 years now, I can confidently say Hillel’s activities fostered a connection amongst my friends that runs deeper than just shared experiences and circumstance.  When the year gets busy and schoolwork takes over our week, Hillel feels familial in a way nothing else does. Not only did I learn new things and meet new people, but I also found a space to express myself authentically. From stealing challah from all the tables at Shabbat dinner to playing games at the Purim carnival and volunteering to educate students on Jewish genetic screening, Hillel has provided me a community that role models healthy relationships and strong leadership.  

I’m now going into my junior year and I am counting down the days until I move into a house with all my best friends. Between our plans to decorate the attic to more games of ‘Set’ (A great card game) to hosting our own Shabbat dinners, I truly cannot wait to see what the year has in store for us. 


Are you interested in finding a Jewish community on your college campus? Check out College Road Trip a Springboard School Break to tour Jewish life on college campuses this Spring.


A Re-imagined Bat Mitzvah Speech by Yardayna Ben-Simon

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Becoming a Bar or Bat Mitzvah is a significant milestone in one’s Jewish journey. This is because at age 12 or 13 one is considered to be an adult in the eyes of Judaism; this is a substantial responsibility at which point one is asked to stand in front of your community to reflect and share wisdom. By this point in life, you are able to developed your own outlook on life, and question your identity, Jewishly and otherwise, which is encouraged by Judaism. But, the questioning doesn’t stop here which means that your perspective is bound to change many times over. How will your reflections change if you were asked to share sentiments again later in life? What better way is there to see personal growth and change in perspective than being asked the same reflective question at a later point in life. Here to share new nuggets of wisdom, and what her Bat Mitzvah speech would look like two years out of college is Yardayna Ben-Simon.

I’m being honest: I barely remember what I wrote for my Bat-Mitzvah speech, probably because it wasn’t really true to who I was. But how could it have been? I was only 12, having very little life experience to say something “wise” or true to my heart or beliefs. 

If I could rewrite my Bat Mitzvah speech as my current 20-year-old self, I would talk about mistakes, particularly within the context of leadership. There are a myriad of characters and leaders in the Torah who made life-threatening and even nation-threatening mistakes, which put themselves and the people of Israel at a disadvantage. Aaron and Miriam spoke Lashon Hara (gossiped). Moses broke the Luchot. David committed adultery. Saul disobeyed G-d’s commands. As Jews, we recognize all of these names and acknowledge each person’s undeniable greatness and fierce connection to G-d and Judaism. But I recall that in day-school, my teachers and fellow peers were afraid to also acknowledge their mistakes. We were hesitant to debunk these leaders’ greatness. But I don’t think mistakes are a bad thing. I think mistakes are so human, separating us from G-d’s imperfections. The mistakes that the above-mentioned leaders made lowered them from the level of G-d to the level of the nation and society.  

A B-Mitzvah child enters young adulthood and is suddenly accountable for the future of the Jewish people and its continuity. They are the future leaders. That’s intimidating! However, as leaders, they have to understand and learn from our past leaders in Jewish tradition. Mistakes make people human and they drive one towards self-awareness, which is, I think, one of the most important qualities in a leader. Mistakes make you look back and say “huh, I see what I did wrong there,” hoping that you’ll grow from it and become even more self-aware. So, I would tell my 12-year-old self: don’t let things just happen to you in a passive way. Don’t just say “oops” and not think about what you did wrong or how you could fix it. Get to know yourself, how you interact with people, your strengths and weaknesses, and be OK with making mistakes and hold yourself accountable for them. That is how you can develop into a true leader, and it’s only human. 



Olivia Hirshorn: Still Singing Along to the sound of Songleader Boot Camp

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When I first found out I was going to Songleader Boot Camp, I was initially hesitant. All I knew was that I would be attending a five day songleading conference in St. Louis. But when I arrived at Union Station, my perspective changed. I was immediately greeted with warm hellos and hugs from the fellow Springboard teens. This first interaction and fun filled train ride perfectly set the tone for the next five days. Every day, I had the chance to meet a wide range of people, all from diverse backgrounds and interests, who all shared a commonality; a love for music and Judaism. Every day was action packed—filled with seminars, spontaneous jam sessions, and meaningful conversations with individuals. Coming in knowing very few people, I left with  a new best friend and community that became family to me. The most powerful moment of SLBC took place in the Blackbox theater. It was Havdalah and everyone who attended the conference was huddled together, standing in a large circle. With new friends and educators on both sides of me, I felt like I had found my people. We all sang in harmony, the sounds of many voices coming together as one. This experience and conference not only allowed me the opportunity to form new bonds, it helped me find myself and my true values. Not only am I already planning on attending this amazing experience next year, I am now top 12 in the Jewish Star competition! Stepping into the unknown to attend this conference was the best decision I ever made. I still ride the SLBC high with an uplifted spirit and soul. 

Who’s excited for Big Apple Adventure Round 4?!?

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Big Apple Adventure Round 4

Who’s excited for Big Apple Adventure Round 4?!? 

We are! And we’re here to tell you our TOP 5 Reasons why! 

#1: You get to spend 5 incredible days in the city that never sleeps! Experience some of the city’s greatest attractions including the Statue of Liberty, the iconic Times Square, and Rockefeller Center!  
#2: You’ll make new, lifelong friendships with other Jewish teens from across the Chicagoland area. You’ll also have the opportunity to build relationships with our incredible college-age advisors and staff!  
#3: One of the best parts of the trip is that you’ll have the chance to give back by volunteering and helping our Jewish brothers and sisters in need. You’ll also learn about the different volunteer organizations that serve Jewish communities in New York and across the world.  
#4: You’ll explore Jewish Brooklyn as you shop for Shabbat, bake your own delicious challahs, and gear up for a Shabbat experience you won’t soon forget!   
#5: As if reasons 1-4 weren’t enough, you’ll also have tons of fun!  


Can’t wait for you to join us this Presidents’ Day Weekend for the trip of a lifetime on Big Apple Adventure! 

Jeremy Schaechter,  

Big Apple Adventure Director & NCSY North Shore Director  


#TravelTuesday Ski & Snowboard Adventure

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Ski and Snowboard Adventure

"The Ski and Snowboard Adventure program is one of the highlights of my year. Not only do I love to ski, but I love to see new people learn this amazing skill every year. Seeing someone who doesn’t even know how to step into a pair of skis or a snowboard on day one racing past me on a black diamond on day four is unbelievable. However, this program is more than a group of teens learning or enhancing a skill, each year I see a group of strangers become a group of friends. Every year I hear about the teens involved meeting up after the program and becoming good friends. In my opinion, that is what the program is all about. Forget about school and homework, at the Ski and Snowboard Adventure teens are able to get away from Chicago, spend their winter break on the slopes skiing, snowboarding, and snow tubing, they try out some of the best indoor waterparks that the Wisconsin Dells has to offer, and leave with a new group of lifelong Jewish friends from across the Chicagoland area."


- Kyle Kolling, JCC Camp Chi Program Coordinator

Springboard Teen Engagement Specialist Sam Grobart Signing Off

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Over the past year and a half, I have had the privilege of working as a Springboard Teen Engagement Specialist. The teens, parents, and professionals I have been able to work with along the way have reassured me that this community will continue to thrive. Being able to be both a teen and professional in this community has been an eye-opening experience. As a teen, there were many things I took for granted and never gave much thought to what went on behind the scenes. As a professional, being able to use my experience as a teen to provide meaningful and engaging programs proved invaluable. I am confident that without my experience as a Jewish teen in this community, I would never have become a Jewish youth professional.

Sam Grobart

It’s been an incredible experience, one that cannot be summarized in a single blog post. I’ve decided to focus on a few lessons I’ve learned as a Teen Engagement Specialist:

1. There is no better day than today to make a difference.

As a Teen Engagement Specialist, I felt empowered to take initiative and create unique, memorable experiences for Jewish teens. None of that could have happened without amazing supervisors and team members, knowing that I had their trust to put ideas into action and take initiative in making a difference in our community. 

2. Jewish youth professionals need to have lots of hats ready in the closet.

One day you may be tasked to organize excel sheets and perfect mail-merge skills. The next day you’ll be speaking to another group of professionals about different email hacks. And a third day you’ll be driving up to an overnight camp to run an immersive and engaging program for teens. Jewish youth professionals need A LOT of different hats and knowing when to wear which. Mentor hat? Yes. Facilitator hat? You bet. Technology wiz hat? Without a doubt. I have come to appreciate the vast amount of skills and areas that come with being a Jewish youth professional.

3. Jewish teen leaders of today are the Jewish youth professionals and leaders of tomorrow.

As cliché as it sounds, it's true. There is no better experience when looking at Jewish youth professional roles then authentic experience in these programs. It is something that cannot be explained but only felt. You just know. For the teens reading this that look up to their staff and other Jewish mentors, they were just like you not so long ago. The amazing experiences you have in your programs don’t need to end when you graduate.

4. Relationships are everything.

As a Teen Engagement Specialist, my number one priority was to build, cultivate, maintain, and enhance relationships. Whether with teens, parents, and professionals, having these strong relationships makes the work we do possible. I want to thank everyone that I have worked with, in any capacity, and allowing me to make even just a small positive difference in the Chicago Jewish teen community.

It’s been a pleasure getting to know so many teens, parents, and professionals in our community. Thank you to all those who have let me learn and grow both personally and professionally. My email will remain, and I won’t be moving far (less than 100 feet to be exact), so please continue to reach out as I begin my new role at the JUF. This is Teen Engagement Specialist Sam Grobart signing off. L’hitraot!

A Letter From Maia Volk

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Hammer Girl

Shalom, 

My name is Maia and I’m the Director of Youth Programs at Beth Emet Synagogue in Evanston, Illinois.  I’m so grateful to have the privilege of working with the amazing teens of the Chicago-area to learn about social justice and take action to make our world a better place. I’ve had so many incredible experiences with our teens exploring the Chicago-area to learn about the history of our city, different social issues affecting our community today, and how to take action to make a difference.   

When I first heard about the possibility of this Springboard School Break trip with Tivnu and TOV Teens, I was ecstatic. I know the social justice aspect of the trip and the opportunity to work with marginalized communities and explore the root causes of poverty and houselessness is something our teens would really enjoy; not to mention the gorgeous scenery, hiking, and fun group-bonding. However, the aspect of the trip that really catches my eye is the opportunity to physically build tiny homes, which will have a direct impact on people’s lives.   

Being able to have this kind of physical impact is something that has been important to me from a young age. Growing up, my favorite place in the world was summer camp. I loved to escape my schoolwork and chores to spend two months a year in an alternate reality where kids ruled the world.  My summer camp was modeled after a kibbutz, so we spent our mornings doing Avodah (work), which included cleaning the bathrooms, chopping vegetables for our meals, building benches, blazing trails, and more.  You would think I found this as boring as my chores at home during the year, but I loved our morning Avodah.  I loved the gratification I felt sitting on the bench I made during meals in the Chadar Ochel (dining hall), showing my parents a mural I helped paint on Visitors Day, and eating a meal for which I helped chop the carrots.  The crucial element of what made camp such a special place to me was that my peers and I had physically built it to be the open, accepting, and loving community that shaped who I am today. 

While Tikkun Olam with Tivnu will a very different experience from my summers at camp, I can’t wait for students to feel the gratification of literally and physically shaping our world to match our values on this trip.  I hope you can join us over Veteran’s Day weekend for this unique and special opportunity. 

Thank you, 

Maia

Tomer Eres: A Dramedy in 3 Acts

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Tomer Eres

Act 1:

Scene 1

(The curtain opens to reveal a hospital in Dayton, OH)

A young Israeli couple emerges the hospital with a new baby. They named him Tomer – unaware of how difficult life will be growing up in the south with an Israeli name. They celebrate the birth of their second (and clearly favorite) son, before returning home to their firstborn, who requests they return the new baby to sender. Scene.

Scene 2

(14 Years Later; Lexington, KY)

The now high-school aged Tomer begins to take voice lessons, discovering a passion for music and singing. Tomer becomes heavily involved in USY, attending conventions, organizing services for the region, and traveling to Israel at any opportunity. Tomer is accepted to the University of Michigan School of Music; On a family trip to Israel, Tomer is told that he hasn’t been released from military duty, and interviews on a military base to prove that he is the American child of Israeli’s and has plans to go to college.  

Act 2:

Scene 1

(The curtain opens to a beautiful fall in Ann Arbor, MI)

Tomer begins his studies at the University of Michigan, taking voice lessons, studying Italian, French, German, and Czech. Four years fly by in a whirl of classes, parties, and performances, culminating in his first operatic role. Tomer finishes his degree and accepts an offer to pursue his Master’s degree at the University of Houston.

Scene 2

(The fall of 2016 in humid, hot Houston, TX)

Tomer begins pursuing his Masters degree at the University of Houston. During this time, Tomer begins exploring his love of baking, inspired by “The Great British Baking Show,” his grandmother, and a great heritage of Jewish baked goods. Upon completing his degree, Tomer starts teaching voice lessons, religious school, and tutors b’nei mitzvah students at Congregation Emanu El. A friend convinces Tomer that he should go on Birthright; It is a life-changing experience, and upon his return Tomer becomes heavily involved in the Houston Hillel’s young professional organization: Jewston.

Act 3:

Scene 1

(August 2019, Chicago, IL)

Tomer moves to Chicago, Illinois on a whim! The JUF asks him to take on a role as the Israel Education Associate for their Ta’am Yisrael program. Tomer enthusiastically accepts the position! He is so excited to begin working with this amazing program, which offers an opportunity like no other, and hopes that everyone who can will join him in taking their own taste of Israel.


Fin

Meet Molly: Springboard's Newest Teen Engagement Specialist

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Molly BBYO

Hi everyone! I'm stoked to be joining Springboard as a Teen Engagement Specialist. I love theater but I'm not musically gifted so please enjoy this rap/poem/spoken word piece below to learn more about me:

(Shout out anyone born after the 90's who knows this) 


In Cincinnati, born and raised

Jewish day school is where I spent most of my days

Chillin out, maxin, relaxin all cool, 

Camp Livingston summers out by the pool 

When my parents decided to make a new plan, 

Moved us up north to a town called Cleveland.

 

Next to Milwaukee with my parents and bro's,

Every weekend spent in BBYO.

Went to college at Wisco, love me some cheese,

Lived in Israel while I got my degrees, 

Wanted to try something a bit new,

So I flew to Riga, Latvia to work with the Jews. 

 

I pulled up to Chicago a few weeks ago, 

Trying to find Graeter’s for some cookie dough, 

Cubs games at Wrigley and trips to The Bean,  

And, of course, super pumped to meet you and your teen!

 Molly Portrait

Molly is excited to be The Fresh Prince (aka Teen Engagement Specialist) of Springboard. She would love to find a time to meet you (ideally at Graeter’s) and help you discover amazing Jewish opportunities.

 

Rebecca Gross, a Research Training Internship alumna, shares important research on antisemitism

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Rebecca Gross

Last week, I had the chance to attend an incredible event in my role as Program Director for the Research Training Internship (RTI). Rebecca Gross, a participant in the RTI Cohort 5, was recently invited to speak at the National Council of Jewish Women Chicago North Shore Section’s (NCJW) City Salon about RTI’s antisemitism research. Each month, the women of the NCJW come together for a discussion group facilitated by Salon members at Salon members’ homes. The group chooses a new topic for each salon, and source materials links are then emailed to everyone to read. Topics include a wide variety of current progressive, feminist and social justice issues, very similar to RTI. RTI is a partnership between JUF and DePaul university for Jewish girls and non-binary teens to explore social justice issues through the lens of feminist research. Each year, the interns choose a topic they care about and research how it manifests in the Chicago area Jewish community. Rebecca was invited to speak at the Salon after her grandmother, a NCJW member, attended RTI’s end-of-year community presentation. 

 

Rebecca presented to a crowd of 50 women, the City Salon’s biggest event since starting earlier this year. Jonathan Mintzer, Assistant Regional Director at ADL Midwest, started the evening with an informational presentation about ADL’s work in tracking and combating antisemitism as well as tips for how we can combat antisemitic remarks we hear in our daily lives. Rebecca’s presentation was interactive. After explaining the work and methods that went into this year’s research, she asked the group questions from one of the surveys used in the report, and she invited audience members to share personal stories before she shared the statistics from the RTI report. Rebecca and Jonathan ended the evening with a question and answer session. 

 

It was very inspiring to see Rebecca take our research to the broader community. Her presentation is the second event in which interns have been able to share their research with the broader community. Earlier in August, Rachel Fadem, Ellie Goldsmith, and Sara Grostern, facilitated small group conversations about antisemitism in progressive spaces as a part of lunch put on by the Jewish Community Relations Council, the Jewish Women’s Foundation of Metropolitan Chicago and NCJW. One of the goals of RTI is to raise awareness around important social justice issues in the Chicago Jewish community. These presentations are a great example of how interns continue this important advocacy work even after their RTI year has ended.

 

Applications for this year’s RTI cohort are open until September 16th.  You can apply here.


Beckee Birger is the Program Director, Teen Leadership & Philanthropy at JUF.  She runs the Research Training Internship and Voices: The Chicago Jewish Teen Foundation – two innovative programs for teens who want to change the world.  She's passionate about connecting young people to opportunities that allow them to explore complex topic and tackle the world's challenges head on. Outside of her teen work, Beckee is working with the Jewish Council on Urban Affairs to create spaces for Jews of Color in Chicago.

Pelah Cohen: A Masa Merit Scholarship Winner

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Pelah Cohen

This summer I had the privilege to go on Yad B’Yad, Yachad’s Inclusive Israel Leadership Experience. Yad B’Yad is a five-week program that travels around Israel with people who have special needs. This program teaches each participant how to create a proactively inclusive environment both on Yad B’Yad, and in each of our own communities back home. 

Walking in on the first day of camp was very intimidating. There were so many people from many different places; not being from New York or New Jersey, I thought I would feel like an out of towner, but I could not have been more wrong. Everyone took the learning sessions and sensitivity training to heart and after a couple of days, I felt like I had known everyone my whole life. 

My favorite part about the program is explaining to people why Yad B’Yad is not a chesed (kindness) based, volunteer program. We did no view hanging out with our friends as volunteer work, the kids with special needs were our friends. Everything we did was accessible, we stayed in the same rooms as them, and just hung out.  

Yad B’Yad was not just traveling and touring. We also had many learning sessions led by the amazing counselors. We learned what it means to truly find yourself in genuine happiness, how to be more inclusive, and how to connect to God. Through those learning groups and talking to the counselors and participants I created connections with, I grew both as a person and as a friend. I will never forget the lessons I learned on this program such as; giving someone a fifteen second summary of what you were talking about when they enter a conversation and always having an empty spot in a circle, so everyone feels comfortable joining. 

Unfortunately, every program comes to an end. Through the laughter and cheers, I can honestly feel the motto of Yachad, “Because everyone belongs,” becoming my favorite quote.  I will aim see everyone for who they are on the inside instead of what I see or hear about them  I learned despite our differences that everyone truly does belong.  


Pelah Cohen is a Junior at Ida Crown Jewish Academy and is going to be taking the lessons she learned from Yad B’Yad back to her school. Throughout the year, she will also be involved with Yachad as president of the High School board, helping plan and run events for the highschool peers and members with special needs. Pelah hopes to go to more international Yachad events and shabbatons year-round.  

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 Paula Harris at Paulaharris@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

Snowball, A Leadership Opportunity by Claire Tolman

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Response for Teens

My proudest accomplishment, and highlight of the year, was getting to be a director of Operation Snowball. This program has been around for far longer than I have been alive, but my first taste of it was last summer when I began my job at Response. My coworker and my supervisor in the Outreach department were also both brand new to their positions; when the director at Response told us about Snowball, we nodded along, but really didn’t have a clue what it would take to make it all happen. To paraphrase her explanation; “Operation Snowball is a weekend retreat for teens that is completely teen-led, where participants have discussions and engage in activities that deepen their knowledge of topics ranging from racism to photography.” That all sounds good and well, but how in the world would we go about planning such an event? 

The answer came to us with the help of others at Response, some creativity, and the support and insight of our wonderful 11 teen leaders. We met with our leaders every week for several months, and they brought so much energy, focus, and dedication to the process. Most of them had been leaders at Snowball before, and regularly expressed their love for the program and for the friends they had met along the way. I can’t tell you how many times I have heard from a Snowball leader or participant that the weekend retreat changed their life forever! Many of our leaders started out with ideas for topics that they knew little about; witnessing their growth and ownership of the material, and problem-solving skills was inspiring.  It was exciting to be able to help our leaders expand their individual strengths, and to create another weekend that would live up to everyone’s high expectations. In thinking back, I’d say we were able to do just that. Together with our fantastic group of leaders and enthusiastic participants, we succeeded in creating an inclusive, caring, and supportive space where we all learned from each other and gained new perspectives.  

Now, summer is almost over, and the process begins again. We are still accepting applications for new leaders and can’t wait to see what our team will look like this year. Meetings pick back up in mid-September, and now, with the knowledge and experience my coworkers and I have, we are excited to dive back in. Who knows what new passions we might be uncovered this time around! If you are interested in applying, or know someone who might be, here is the link to the application! We welcome new faces, new ideas and fresh perspectives! 


Claire Tolman is a Community Educator at Response for Teens. As a member of the Outreach team, she designs and teaches lessons on gender, sexuality, anatomy, consent, relationships, birth control, and more, in middle and high school classrooms across Chicago. She also serves as a director of Response’s Operation Snowball program, and is looking forward to another fantastic Snowball retreat this year!

Beyond Tourism: My Diller Israel Trip

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DIna Barrish

A tourist observes but does not experience. The distinction is subtle yet important: visiting Machaneh Yehuda to witness Friday afternoon chaos versus braving the balagan (lively chaos) to buy your own Shabbat groceries. True experience, however, requires understanding; you must comprehend a culture before immersing yourself in the lifestyle. 

This summer, the Diller Teen Fellowship allowed me to understand, experience and love Israel on a deeper level. Through the theme of Israel of Many Faces, I, along with 19 other Chicago fellows and four staff members, explored Israel’s diverse narratives. We acknowledged landmarks (such as the Kotel, Har Hertzel and Masada) but focused on Israeli culture, on people. We were much more interested in our tour guide Revital’s personality and stories than in whatever monument out the window she was explaining. And when an Israeli guest speaker scoffed that we were spending a week in Kiryat Gat, we held our heads high, knowing that the people there were our people-- the best host families and friends across Israel. 

Having been to Israel twice before, I found this new angle -- the emphasis on lifestyle over landmark -- refreshing and eye-opening. I challenged myself to engage in all that is Israel, to the extent that my scavenger-hunt teammates thought I was crazy for asking every passerby in Tel Aviv to join our Horah. 

Reflecting on moments I felt most absorbed in Israeli culture -- most unlike a tourist -- I recall my host home in Kiryat Gat. By my second day with the Cohen family during Community Week, I didn’t feel like a guest; I was family. I practiced my Hebrew playing games with Noam, my host’s, sibling and had full conversations with her parents while she was in a different room. I was initially nervous to stay with Noam’s family because I’m conservative, and Noam’s family is strictly orthodox. But as Noam and I savored our last Saturday night together, shakshuka on the stove and Israeli music in the background, I remember thinking, this is home. 

My stay in Kiryat Gat not only acquainted me with an authentic Israeli lifestyle, but also introduced me to Israeli perspectives. Friday night, Noam and I went to Bnei Akiva, her community youth group. The Rabbi was conducting a discussion about diaspora Jews, asking if we (the Israelis and single Chicagoan) thought that all Jews living outside of Israel must eventually make aliyah. An Israeli boy started aggressively claiming that diaspora Jews were illegitimate, an opinion I hadn’t heard before, and Noam -- usually shy, quiet, soft-spoken -- stood right up and defended me. I understood, loved, felt at home in her home, and she similarly appreciated mine. 

At the end of the trip, I encountered and loved homes beyond just mine and Noam’s. Surrounded by 640 teens from 32 cities worldwide at Diller Global Congress, the sea of white t-shirts and bucket hats didn’t overwhelm me. Thanks to Diller, I understood beyond a tourist’s limitations: I wasn’t afraid to experience diversity. 32 cities meant 32 cultures; 640 teens meant 640 homes. I was prepared, excited, to engage with new beliefs and customs, and I have friends across the globe to show for it. Thanks to Diller, I thrived. 


Dina Barrish is not only a Diller Teen Fellow, but a senior at Rochelle Zell Jewish High School in Deerfield and Editor-in-Chief of the school newspaper, The Stripe. She is co-president of Moriah Congregation’s USY chapter and interns at the Illinois Holocaust Museum and Education Center. She looks forward to returning to Israel in January 2020 with the RZJHS Senior class.

Summer Highlights: Visiting Camps

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Waking up two hours earlier than normal to drive three hours is not often the start of a great day at work. However, last week my co-worker Sam and I did just that and spent an amazing day with the teens at JCC Camp Chi. The ride went by quickly and before we knew it we had reached the camp gate,  the same gate that granted me entry to my home away from home for twelve summers. I felt like I was in a weird, wonderful time warp. Even though there were only a handful of people there from my own camp days, it was clear to me that the campers are still having ruach (spirit) filled summers and making memories like the ones that I deeply cherish.  

The week prior, I had the pleasure of visiting Beber Camp. What was amazing about this visit was unlike JCC Camp Chi, I didn’t walk in with my own history in that space or community. None the less, I felt almost as if I could see joy and comradery the campers were experiencing by spending their summer immersed in a community rooted in Jewish values.  

One of the perks of my job is getting to see these amazing summer camp programs in action and apparently, I am not the only one who enjoys this element of Jewish professional work. I enjoyed reading Lonnie Nasatir’s reflections on visiting camps and how he sees his own camp experience relevant in his work as JUF President.  As someone who often finds themselves sitting across from a teen who is facing the difficult decision of participating in a staff-in-training program at a summer camp or getting a “real job,” I am thrilled to be able to point to Lonnie as an example of someone who truly sees the value in the important skills camp nurtures.  

Sadly, I have no more camp visit scheduled for this summer, but t I look forward to hearing about all the amazing adventures Chicago area teens are having in day and overnight camp programs this summer.  

Brittany Abramowicz Cahan is the Assistant Director of Springboard. She has spent 20 summers at camps including JCC Camp Chi, Camp Ramah Wisconsin, Habonim Dror Camp Tavor and Camp Mountain Chai. Brittany credits her fire building abilities, tie-dye expertise and creative problem-solving skills all to her camp days. She loves to meet with teens and families to hear about their experiences at camp and help them find programs throughout the year the offer the camp essence.   

We’d love to feature your favorite camp memory on the Springboard Blog email Springboard@juf.org if you would like to contribute.  


 


My Hebrew Story by Stephanie Kallish

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Hi, my name is Stephanie Kallish and I will be a Junior in the fall at Highland Park High School. The Highland Park High School Hebrew program has been such a positive experience for me in many ways. I have learned so much, improved my conversation and comprehension skills, and forged relationships with other Jewish teens my age. 

Ever since I was little, I have always had a passion for Hebrew and Israel. Unlike the average kid, I looked forward to going to Hebrew school. My teachers told me how amazing Israel was and how important it is to our faith. After traveling to Israel in eighth grade with Ta’am Yisrael, I understood what they meant and developed an appreciation for how modern and fast paced Israel truly is. This deepened my connection to the Hebrew language. It is not only the language of the Torah, but it is vibrant, current and cool! 

I recommend Hebrew to any incoming high schooler. Not only is Hebrew an amazing and fascinating language, but the class is engaging, fun and tight knit.  There is something very special about having a class with the same people every year. Typically, the summer can be super stressful finding out who your teachers are and who is in your classes, but Hebrew classes have stability of teachers and friends. After being in a class with the same people for four years, you will make friends that you never thought you would.  In Hebrew we are all so close because we automatically have one thing in common; we chose to take Hebrew all four years.  

If you are even considering taking Hebrew, I recommend you sign up. For me, taking Hebrew was one of the most positive decisions I have made so far for myself. It has had an impact on my social, academic and Jewish life.  It has also helped me foster a much stronger connection to Israel than I ever had before. My Hebrew story is a positive one, and I hope you one day you can create your own. 


USWNT: Another Mark In History

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“Goal! USA leads!” the commentator screamed. In the 61st minute, in front of thousands of screaming fans, and millions more watching around the world, Megan Rapinoe gave the United States Women’s National Team (USWNT) the lead that eventually propelled them to their second straight FIFA Women’s World Cup title over the Netherlands.   

Since its inception in 1991, the USWNT has won 4 FIFA Women’s World Cup titles and has placed top-3 in each tournament.  Beyond their successes as athletes, the USWNT team has been making a difference by elevating the need for equality of female athletes, both in terms of pay and public recognition.

uswnt photo

As an avid sports fan, watching the USWNT celebrate their most recent title got me thinking about the role that influential Jewish athletes have played in my life and the impact they have had on their sports and our society. We are fortunate to live in a time when Jewish athletes are celebrated for the contributions they have made to the world of sports and, much like the women of USWNT, have become household names. For example, a few years ago Aly Raisman, a two-time Olympic gymnast, performed her floor routine to Hava Nagila in the 2012 Olympics. Some of you may even have heard her speak at BBYO's International Convention in Orlando. She is an athlete who embraces her Jewish identity and has intertwined it with her athletic identity. Agnes Keleti is another great example of a Jewish athlete who has made history. As a Holocaust survivor and an Olympian, her 5 gold medals, 3 silver, and 2 bronze showed the world in the 1950’s what Jewish women were capable of and what real strength looks like. And, of course, Sandy Koufax is famously known for refusing to play in a World Series game because it fell on Yom Kippur. Like the USWNT, these athletes have made a difference in the way that we envision world class athletes and used their athletic platform to elevate important topics. 

This week’s win was a great reminder that sports is about so much more than just amazing athletic performances. It felt amazing to join millions of fans across the world in cheering on the USNWT, to look to them as examples of strength and inspiration. 

Think you’ve got what it takes to be an athletic superstar? All the athletes above started somewhere, whether it was team practice after school, playing in leagues or clubs, all working incredibly hard to get where they are now. If you’re an aspiring athlete, consider weaving some Jewish values into sports through the JCC Maccabi and Artfest Games. The Maccabi Games are an Olympic-style sporting competition that provides teens a once in a lifetime opportunity to not only play the sport they love, but do so in a nurturing, yet competitive Jewish environment. This summer 78 Chicago area youth athletes are headed to Detroit and Atlanta to participating in this summers’ JCC Maccabi Games. To learn more about the JCC Maccabi Games, click here or contact Julie Minor at jminor@jccchicago.org. 

Maccabi Games photo

Sam Grobart is not only a Teen Engagement Specialist, but a die-hard Chicago sports fan. His favorite soccer team is the Queens Park Rangers FC. When he is not cheering for QPR, the Bulls, or the Sox, he is playing sports himself. Sam would love to chat with you about sports and can even help you connect your passion for sports with the Jewish community.   

My Hebrew Story by Elie Rosenberg

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I first chose to take Hebrew in high school because I had taken Hebrew at my Jewish day school which I went through eighth grade, and I wanted to continue learning the language. I had enjoyed learning Hebrew at my Jewish day school, but taking Hebrew in a public high school truly allowed me to appreciate the uniqueness of the language and the opportunities that I had been given to study it in day school, at my public high school, and at overnight camp.

Hebrew is a language rich in history, meaning, and nuances that is fascinating to break down and analyze. The intuitive patterns in Hebrew make the language surprisingly straightforward to learn. However, my strongest connection to Hebrew comes from the people I have met through my studies. Hebrew class in high school has been an extremely important community for me. Most Hebrew classes are mixed grade levels which brings a sense of “family” into these classes. My Hebrew teachers and faculty advisor with my independent study have been supportive presences that have urged me to dig deeper about myself and into Hebrew. Being able to speak to Israelis because of my knowledge of Hebrew has been the best part. I stayed with an Israeli family for a week going into junior year and because I knew Hebrew, I was able to deepen my connection with the host family. Additionally, knowing Hebrew has allowed me to connect to Israeli camp counselors at my summer camp. 

Also, the Israeli culture that I have learned about through studying Hebrew, is absolutely fantastic. I love listening to Israeli music and watching TV shows in Hebrew. Knowing Hebrew has allowed me to delve into a culture that I love!  

Regardless of religion or beliefs, Hebrew is an incredibly useful language that has the power to open a multitude of doors; professionally, socially, and on a more personal level. I highly recommend that others take Hebrew to build the same kinds of connections that I was able to build through my study of Hebrew and to be exposed to an awesome language! 

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. 


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

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Teen-Seed613

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. 


 


My Hebrew Story by Mia Strubel Iram

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My relationship with Hebrew began long before high school. I began speaking Hebrew as a little kid. At home I heard my dad speak it, and throughout my nine years of Jewish Day school my connection to Hebrew deepened as I was immersed in the language. I was initially drawn to the language because of what it represented: my family who lived in Israel, my culture and my Judaism.  

When I left Chicago Jewish Day School, for the first time in my life I had the opportunity to choose the language I wanted learn; I no longer had to learn Hebrew. For a moment I thought of taking Spanish, I considered questions like: Isn’t Spanish a more useful language? Do I really need to take Hebrew if I’ve already been learning in? Those doubts didn’t last long before I realized that I did not need to take a more traditional class to get the things I wanted out of speaking a foreign language. Hebrew is an extremely valuable language. It is unique and will stand out on my future college applications. While Hebrew is a language that I have a religious connection to, many other religions have a connection to Hebrew too, and therefore, my classes could be very diverse. My decision was made clear through the ultimate question: how could I give up on learning a language that I have such a strong connection to? 

If it isn’t clear, I decided to take Hebrew my freshman year at Niles North. Since then, my connection to the language has increased exponentially. My Hebrew class has always been a time in the day that I look forward to, and one where I am happily exposed to new topics. I have learned so much more about the culture and intricacies of the language. Choosing to take Hebrew has impacted my high school experience immensely. It has helped me become more involved in my school and outside community. Looking back, I cannot imagine how different my high school experience would be, had I not chosen to take Hebrew.


A New Lens on the 10 Plagues

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New Lens on the 10 Plagues

On Passover, we are commanded to re-tell the story of Jewish liberation from slavery.  One of the most dramatic parts of the story is the ten plagues.  To free our people, G-d sent the plagues to Pharaoh as reminders of all the injustice happening during his rule.  As we think about about justice and liberation today, what are some of the “plagues” that remind us that even today not everyone is free?  We asked three Research Training Interns to think about what are some of the modern plagues they observe in society today.

Political polarization is a modern plague because it forces individuals to take one side on an issue and does not allow for compromises.  Social and political divides are being created and perpetuated due to the idea that people can only take one extreme side of an issue rather than meeting somewhere in the middle.”  -- Sara Grostern

Social media is a modern-day plague.  It creates unrealistic standards of perfection that negatively affects so many people, primarily young people.  Climate change is also a modern plague because it destroying the world as we know it.   Climate change disproportionately affects people of color, women, people living in poverty, and indigenous people.  Although it is still such a major issue, many people are blind to its effects.” – Gwen Tucker

Internalized racism is a modern-day plagues because of the ignorance towards it.  People internalize stereotypes and unconsciously apply them into their lives, causing racial inequity.”  -- Ellie Goldsmith

What would you name as a modern plague?  Think about these and other pressing social justice issues with other teen girls and non-binary teens in the Research Training Internship – a 10 month feminist research internship exploring social justice issues in Chicago.  Applications for cohort 6 are now open.  Learn more and apply here.  Please contact Beckee Birger, Program Director, at rebeccabirger@juf.org with questions.   


Reflections on being a TYG advisor and this year's LEAD award winner by Neil Rigler

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Niel Rigler

It’s hard for me to imagine a time in my life when I was not working with Jewish teenagers. I grew up in a synagogue where both of my parents served as president, so I was constantly surrounded by that community. During high school I was an active participant in our temple’s youth group and in NFTY (JFTY at the time - go New Jersey!) events, both regionally and nationally. The day after graduation I started working at URJ’s Camp Harlam, where I spent 11 summer as counselor, unit head, and leader of their 6-week summer trip to Israel. When I moved to Chicago after college, I worked at OSRUI for two years and was hired as the youth advisor at North Shore Congregation Israel, where I have been honored to work for the past twenty-six years. I must take a moment to note I was initially hired as a co-youth group advisor - my partner then is my wife now - the world works in mysterious (or perhaps quite deliberate) ways! During my spare time I’m an English Teacher at Deerfield High School, where I enjoy the opportunity to work with a wide range of students but worry a bit less about boxes of costumes and ordering pizza.

To me, the different aspects of the LEAD award (Leader, Educator, Advisor, Dugma/Example) are all essential and interwoven components of what it means to be successful with this challenge. However, what they each mean is not so straightforward. For me, being a leader means standing on the side while my students lead. If I am the one in the front of the room or running an activity, they are passive participants instead of growing their skills in communication and organization and a hundred other areas. As an educator, my main roles are to ask questions and encourage reflection. After every program we consider not only what worked and didn’t, but also the parts each person played in everything from the brainstorming to social interaction to physical work. Being an advisor means being a listener - I long ago learned to be aware of the needs of each student, and that everyone carries a heavy backpack. I set a high bar of expectations and work hard to create it with each of them - the strengths and challenges of each student are unique. Lastly, being an dugma/example means I must be aware of our goals and the ways in which I model them. If I am being phony about it, students are aware of that right away. If I engage with my Jewish identity in a genuine and meaningful way, I can better help be a participant in the important conversations they have about what that can mean to them - about the role Judaism plays in their daily lives and how to explore those questions.

In my jobs as both teacher and TYG advisor I am constantly learning from my students. They are the ones who teach me about current ways of thinking and existing, about their ways of navigating our complicated political and social times, and about the galaxy of forces impacting their thoughts and beliefs. (As a music nerd I try to hold my own in that category, and always manage to surprise a lot of kids when I’m closer to the stage at Lollapalooza than they are). I like to tell people I have the best job in the world - that every day is different, and that I get to be present when teens are at their most curious. Yet those opportunities coincide with their most vulnerable moments, and times when they most feel like challenging and questioning everything. I embrace that. Those are the moments of growth and I’m truly honored to have the opportunity to be there and help guide the pathway for the next generation of Jewish leaders. I’m so fortunate to have so many fantastic people to work with at North Shore Congregation Israel. I’m thankful to Springboard and all of the great work they do, for this wonderful award, and for the chance to reflect on my journey up to this point.

A Window into Diller Teen Fellows: by Abbey Finn

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The Diller Teen Fellows program is a year-long fellowship rooted in six core experiences; leadership, Jewish identity, Israel, Tikkun Olam, pluralism, and Jewish peoplehood. As a fellow this past year, I’ve grown tremendously through the program and have formed invaluable connections to each of these values.  I’ve taken on leadership roles and been involved in multiple Jewish organizations throughout high school, and because of this, I can say with certainty that Diller is amazingly unique. So far this year, we’ve had monthly workshops and two shabbatonim. We’re looking forward to a 10-day experience with our partner region in Israel when they visit Chicago, and to a three-week Israel trip in the summer. Diller is different from other programs in how pluralistic and diverse it is. Our cohort has fellows from different areas, schools, and levels of observance. We’ve used our differences to teach one another about our individual experiences as Jewish teens, and how that has had an influence on us and our community. We’ve been forming friendships with our Israeli counterparts and can’t wait to learn and grow as Jewish leaders with other Diller teens from all over the world. 

          Besides forming incredible friendships and creating lasting memories with the other fellows and staff, I’ve been able to partake in awesome programming. Some of my favorites include bonding as a cohort with a mock bar-mitzvah, giving back to the community by volunteering at the Lieberman Center for Health and Rehabilitation, reading about and discussing Jewish culture around the world, and hearing from a Holocaust survivor and a Jewish congressman. Our last shabbaton was based on leadership, and we had the opportunity to split off into different committees and plan the entire weekend. My committee brought in two speakers and led a program focused on our passions. It was a great way to work on leadership skills in preparation for planning a similar week with our Israeli counterparts when we go to Israel. During this shabbaton, we also took time to create an impactful Shabbat experience and get to know one another on a deeper level. While each workshop we have is focused on a different aspect of the program, the workshops all connect to help shape fellows into prominent Jewish intellectuals and role models. 

          The Diller Teen Fellows program has transformed my year. It’s challenged perceptions I thought I knew, given me connections to remarkable Jewish communities around the world, and introduced me to some of my best friends. If you want to take advantage of this amazing opportunity, apply to be a part of Cohort 7! I promise that you won’t regret it. There’s a specific quote that comes to mind when I think of Diller. “From the outside looking in, you can never understand it. From the inside looking out, you can never explain it”. While I attempted to provide a description, my experiences differ from others. The only way to grasp the wonders of Diller is to experience it for yourself. 

For more information and registration click here


 


5 Ways to Have the Best Purim Ever

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Purim Mask

Purim is here! The Jewish holiday of Purim (best recognized as the holiday where we dress up and eat delicious triangular cookies called hamentashen) takes place during the Hebrew month of Adar. Did you know that during Adar it’s actually a commandment to be happy?  Below we offer some suggestions to increase your happiness this Purim.

  1. Make a wacky new kind of Hamantaschen this year. While I’m sure many of us have enjoyed some decadent Hamantaschen during one Purim celebration or another, here are some fun unique recipes for you to try this year! Bake them, eat them, share them, however you want to spread the Purim joy is encouraged!
  2. Take your costume to the next level and get some inspiration from last years top Purim costumes
  3. Sick and tired of having the same old Grogger for Purim? Check out this fun article on how to make and decorate your own Grogger this Purim! 
  4. Want to do something nice for your friends or family? Purim is a perfect time to do just that! Mishloach Manot are baskets of food, drinks, or other treats delivered to family or friends on Purim. Take this opportunity to send your loved ones some Mishloach Manot.  
  5. Check out our Instagram story where we ask ‘What Makes You Happy’ and will be sharing your responses throughout the day on Purim/Thursday! 

My Hebrew Story by Glenbrook North Hebrew Ambassador

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Hebrew Word 2

Since starting high school, Hebrew has become a major part of my life. Before freshman year, I was not aware of how much I could enjoy taking a language class. I decided to take Hebrew because I had heard fantastic things about Josh Morrell, the teacher at Glenbrook North and I also heard that it was overall a great class. I can definitely see Hebrew benefiting my future because I plan to visit Israel many times later in my life. Additionally, knowing conversational Hebrew will allow me to communicate easily with the people around me. Learning Hebrew will also impact my future because I plan to take Hebrew in college, therefore I will be well prepared. 

Others should take Hebrew because even though learning a new language can be challenging, it can also be very enjoyable. Hebrew is a class that I always look forward to attending because of the connection I have with my classmates. There is a strong sense of community in the Hebrew classroom that is hard to find in other classes. Taking Hebrew at school has increased my appreciation for the language.  

When I am at Temple or reciting a prayer at home, I have a completely different perspective and understanding because of my experience taking Hebrew. My view of the Hebrew language is significantly more positive now that I have learned more conversational Hebrew.  I am thankful that I decided to take Hebrew. It has been such an enjoyable experience for me and I believe that all students can benefit from taking Hebrew at their high school. 


JTAC in the Community: Josh's NFTY Kallah Video

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JTAC (Jewish Teen Alliance of Chicago) is a board made up of teen leaders representing different Jewish programs in the Chicago community. We asked them to share stories that reflect their Jewish involvement. Over the next few months we will be featuring their stories on the Springboard blog, Instagram and Facebook. If you want to learn more about the experiences they share, email Springboard@juf.org or send us a message.

Today we are featuring a video by Josh Glucksman highlighting the NFTY Chicago Area Region Winter Kallah at Oak Park Temple. Josh and Sarah Cohen, NFTY CAR President, share how they, along with teens from across Chicago, spent the weekend learning about restorative justice, exploring the intersection of food justice and food deserts, hanging at the arcade, celebrating Tu Bisvhat and Shabbat, and making great new friendships!

Springboard's 2019 18 Under 18 Leadership Event

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18 under 18 logo

Three years ago, Springboard started a new program to highlight teen leaders in the Chicago area. Each year 18 Under 18 honoree selection has become increasingly competitive. This year was no different with a record breaking 79 different teens nominated for the award. After careful consideration, the final 18 were selected.

2019 honorees

Springboard is proud to announce the 2019 18 Under 18 Honorees: 

Dina Barrish

Sarah Bloom

Ella Brown

Raquel Cohen

Sophie Draluck

Sophie Frankenthal

Joshua Zach Glucksman

Ariana Handelman

Shulamit Horton

Rebecca Jacobson

Maxine Kalika

Marc Luban

Emma Rosenberg-Rappin

Andrew Scott

Brian Silverstein

Elitsa Mairav Reinglass Sklar

Jason Tothy

Randi Wilk

The group met for the first time on Wednesday, February 13th for the 18 Under 18 Leadership Event. During the event teens got to know each other and discussed what it means to be a leader. They reflected on their leadership experiences within their specific communities and dove into issues that they are seeing and how they, as leaders, can help address and work towards solving them. The honorees also heard from other community leaders including former 18 Under 18 honoree Sawyer Goldsmith and Marissa Freeman, the Chicago Hub Manager of OneTable. During the panel, the honorees engaged with Marissa and Sawyer, asking critical questions about how to help people find connections within the Jewish community, how to deepen their leadership skills, and how to bridge their Jewish identities with the broader community.  

Next, the honorees applied their leadership skills values to their signature projects. The first activity asked the honorees to zero in on crucial Jewish values that relate to different aspects of being a Jewish teenager. The teens were asked which values related to the challenges they want to tackle in their communities and how they can use these values to inform their work. The second activity utilized the metaphor of a peer led hike to help the honorees identify their unique leadership styles. Through meaningful content driven discussion, the honorees then unpacked their issues and clarified how their individual skills best serve their issue. In addition, the teen considered at how their communities can best support them. 

The evening was filled with enthusiasm and passion. Over the next few weeks, the honorees will work on addressing their issues and will present their progress at the 18 Under 18 Community Event on April 10 at the Botanical Gardens.  The evening will include a dessert reception, live music and more! We hope you will join us on April 10. You can get your tickets here.  


Let’s Get Together: A Journey for Social Justice

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Let's Get Together

“In order to create a better, brighter future with more justice and equality, we need to unite these groups that have been attacked throughout history and realize that we have amazing similarities.”  

-Simon Adams, 17, Lane Tech High School, Let’s Get Together participant.  

Last year African American teens, of all religions, and Jewish teens, of all racial backgrounds, took a journey through the South to learn about their communities and how to advocate for social justice. The teens stopped at important cites and landmarks such as the National Civil Rights Museum, Little Rock High School, and lobbying at Springfield, Illinois during their trip where they explored anti-Semitism, civil rights, and integration.  With a goal to bridge the cultural gaps between these two communities, the teens joined together during fun activities and meaningful conversations about how they can help better their communities. “During Let’s Get Together we discussed different stereotypes that are prominent in the Jewish community as well as the African American community. This was really meaningful because the discussion not only brought us close, but also shed some light on how saying certain things or doing certain things can affect others on a deeper level.” - Jacob Kline, 16, Lane Tech High School 

Once again, this powerful trip is being offered again to teens throughout of all the Chicagoland area. From April 14-17 teens in grades 9-12 will have the amazing opportunity to travel to Memphis, Little Rock, St. Louis and Springfield.  

Let’s Get Together gives teens the resources and ability to use their words to create change. “Now that I’ve been on this trip and I’ve been able to talk about the things I felt and believed in and people listened to me, I feel like I’m able to speak way better than before.” Genevieve Hicks 17, Richard T Crane Medical Prep, said after coming back from Let’s Get Together.   

This trip is a great opportunity to learn about our history as a nation and come together to help fight social injustice. To learn more and sign up for Let’s Get Together click here.  


My Hebrew Story by Sarah Bloom

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Dear Prospective Hebrew Student, 

Welcome to language, welcome to culture, welcome to community. Welcome to a unique experience, welcome to achievement, welcome to fun.  

Welcome to Hebrew. 

I was once in your shoes, choosing what language to learn in high school. It’s kind of overwhelming, having all the booths at a language fair yelling out why you should take this language or that one. I won’t yell, I promise.  

I feel like Hebrew is different from the rest of the languages. Whenever I hear someone speaking Hebrew out in the real world, I feel an instant connection to them, like we’re partial to some united community and not just two individuals who happen to know the same language. And that language is beautiful, spoken like a song. When you sign up to take Hebrew, you aren’t just signing up for any old language.  

Did you know that the magic word “Abracadabra”, actually originates from the Hebrew words ( אברא כדברא ebrah kedevrah) which means “I create as I have spoken”? Hebrew can be found almost anywhere you look, if only you know how. Beyond popping up in the strangest places, the culture behind the Hebrew language is fascinating, and oftentimes, delicious in the case of schwarma, hummus, and falafel, to name a few. Knowing Hebrew also gives you access to numerous ancient documents relevant to history and different religions. When you sign up to take Hebrew, you aren’t just signing up for a language, you’re signing up for culture. 

Usually by the end of 7th period, I’m tired.  I’m dragging my feet. I’m watching the clock. When I walk through the door of my 8th period Hebrew class that feeling goes away. As soon as I walk in, I see my friends. Friends I’ve been with in Hebrew class since freshman year. Friends I’ve gotten to know really well and look forward to seeing every day. I can say with absolute certainty that many of the people in my Hebrew class will remain close friends after high school and beyond, because when you sign up to take Hebrew, you aren’t just signing up for a language, you’re signing up for a community. 

How many people do you know who take Hebrew? I’d bet you could count the number on one hand. Hebrew is a distinct class, partly because it’s a relatively small program, but also because Hebrew is just so different from other languages. Hebrew has its own alphabet that has both print and script versions. When writing in Hebrew, you write right to left and you write the vowels under the word or don’t even write them at all. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Because when you sign up to take Hebrew, you aren’t just signing up for a language, you’re signing up for a unique experience.  

Achievement and Hebrew go hand in hand. I don’t know one person who doesn’t take Hebrew for honors credit. And whether due to highly skilled teachers or the natural intuitiveness of the language, many people in the Hebrew program have said Hebrew is one of the easiest and most fun honors classes. Beyond that, colleges like students that are different, and Hebrew is definitely a way to stand out. Furthermore, many high schools have Hebrew Honors Societies, which give students the opportunity to take the STAMP assessment, a test of biliteracy, and if you’re up for an extreme challenge, the Hebrew SAT. All of these opportunities are great additions to college applications, as well as being invaluable skills after high school. When you sign up for Hebrew, you aren’t just signing up for a language, you’re signing up for achievement. 

But perhaps most important of all, Hebrew is just plain fun. From having cookies every Friday to taking a trip down to the kitchen to bake challah, something exciting is always going on. And during class, we don’t just listen to lectures and wait for class to be over. We write skits, play bingo and other games, learn about things we are actually interested in and talk to each other- all in Hebrew. When you sign up for Hebrew, you aren’t just signing up for a language, you’re signing up for fun. 

So go ahead, highlight your courses, plan out your schedule, hope you’re in the same gym class as your best friend. But let’s make your course selection a little less stressful. Because the questions isn’t should I take Hebrew, it’s why wouldn’t I?

Best, Sarah Bloom, student in Hebrew 5: Advanced Hebrew Language and Literature 

 

My Hebrew Story by Sammy Schwartz

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Hebrew Word

My Hebrew and formal education began simultaneously. My parents chose to send me to JCC for preschool where I embarked on a journey that has been everlasting. From the JCC I went on to Solomon Schechter Day School which furthered my love for Hebrew. Hebrew became as integral to my education as Common Core subjects such as math, science, and English. Following eighth-grade, I went to my local public high school, Niles North. Thankfully, I’ve been able to continue learning Hebrew under District 219’s Hebrew program. 

The ability to learn Hebrew at a public institution is a blessing that I’m extremely thankful for. Not only have I been afforded the opportunity to study a language directly tied to my culture, I’ve been able to share it with others. When I first began at Niles North, the Hebrew program was only Jewish students. While expected, I sought to change this narrative. My sophomore year, I started to recruit friends of mine to join the program. Unfortunately, the number of students signed up for Hebrew the following year couldn’t sustain the typical five classes of Hebrew. This pushed me towards a large recruitment goal. During my Junior year, I was elected Head of Recruitment for D219’s Hebrew Honor Society. Driven with passion for Hebrew I, alongside my fellow HHS members, were able to recruit over 20 students. Now, D219 has TWO Hebrew 1 courses in addition to the standard 4-5 courses.

I believe that studying Hebrew provides a unique opportunity to learn a language that has lasted centuries. Archaeological evidence, such as the Dead Sea Scrolls, can tie the language to the Biblical Era. Furthermore, with a growing global economy Hebrew will become increasingly more advantageous to know alternative languages, especially Hebrew, which holds the basis to many other modern languages. 


It's a Bird, It's a Plane, No! It's a Super Blood Wolf Moon!

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Moon


This coming Sunday, January 20, we will have the chance to see one of the most rare and unique views of the moon. A super wolf blood moon will appear in the sky starting around 9:30 pm CST. What is a super blood wolf moon you ask? Well let’s break it down!  

A super moon is when the moon is closer to the earth than normal. This means that the moon will appear larger than it would on any other given night. The wolf moon refers to the first full moon of the new year and originates from the idea of wolves howling in the cold night for food. A blood moon is when the sun’s rays bounce off the Earth’s atmosphere projecting a red tint onto the moon. To make all of these coincidences even crazier, they are taking place during a total lunar eclipse. Unlike most eclipse’s however, the super wolf blood moon will last for close to an hour. These five events rarely happen at the same time and we are lucky enough to have one of the best views in the WORLD for this awesome event! 

Just like the Super Blood Wolf Moon (SBWM), Springboard is also preparing for an amazing, though not- as- coincidental, convergence of five unique experiences. There are still 5 school break trips happening this year. Each one of Springboard’s school break programs stands alone in offering unrivaled experiences that as a Chicagoland teen, you have the best (and only) view for/chance to participate in.  

Springboard’s school break programs will take you all across the country: from the Big Apple, to going on a college road trip, learning awesome skills at Camp Chi, experiencing important locations from the Civil Rights movement, or becoming the next Jewish Rockstar in St. Louis. Like the Super Blood Wolf Moon, you won’t want to miss out on your chance to participate. So, sign up for your next awesome adventure and experience a moon that we won’t see again until at least 2022! 

Want to share your excitement? On Sunday night during the SBWM post a picture on Instagram of yourself and the moon with #SpringboardSBWM and you can win an awesome Springboard swag.  

Also, don’t forget to follow Springboard on Instagram @Springboardchicago 


Meet Alana: One of BBYO's Associate Regional Directors

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Alana of BBYO

Learn more about the amazing educators in our community! During the month of January, we are highlighting new youth professionals that are new in their roles.  Today we are sharing a post by BBYO’s very own Alana Ben-Zeev.  Alana is one the Associate Regional Directors for the Great Midwest Region. Click  here for more information about BBYO.  

Hi! My name is Alana Ben-Zeev and I am super excited to have joined the BBYO Great Midwest Region family. I recently moved to Chicago from Orlando, Florida where I was a participant in BBYO during my high school years. I attended Rollins College where I majored in Organizational Communication and Leadership and minored in Jewish Studies, and I was an active member of the Greek life community. During my summers in college I worked at Camp Barney Medintz, a Jewish Sleepaway camp in the south as a counselor and a Unit Head. Before moving to Chicago, I was living in Tallinn, Estonia as a part of JDC Entwine’s Jewish Service Corps. There, I was a JDC BBYO Fellow most of the work I did with the Jewish community was with teens and young adults.  

I am so excited to have returned to BBYO, to give back to an organization that gave so much to me when I was a high school participant, and to become a part of the Chicago Jewish Community.  

Alana’s Top Three Facts:  

I love to travel (my favorite places I've been too are Portugal and Lithuania) 

My favorite food is sushi 

I had only been to Chicago once before moving here


Top 9 Ways to Get Involved in 2019

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Top 9 ways to get involved in 2019

It’s that time of year where we say goodbye to the last 12 months and welcome in a brand-new year. We reflect on the experiences we’ve had, the people we’ve met, and the people we have become. With the new year, we set new goals for ourselves. Whether it is something small like finally going to the gym or spending less time procrastinating, or something big like how we can be a better version of ourselves, we continue to look for ways to improve. New year’s goals can be difficult to reach. Yes, some goals we set have very clear routes to being completed. If my goal is to go to the gym, then obviously I need to pause Netflix and go to the gym. However, not all goals are this clear cut. The road to reaching our goals can be full of obstacles, but the reward of reaching our goals are well worth it. 

As we kick off 2019, it’s time to start planning for the upcoming year. What are your goals for 2019? Share them over the next two weeks using the #SpringboardGoals2019 for a chance to win a Springboard Swag bag.   

One of my goals is to help every teen in the Chicagoland area find a place where they can take steps to reaching their own goals. I could provide an endless list of all the incredible programs, leadership opportunities and ways to develop new skills (Don’t worry a list like that will be out soon!) but instead, I’ve highlighted ways the Jewish community can support you in following through on your resolutions and having an incredible year!   

Make New Friends by joining a youth group: The Chicagoland area is fortunate to be home to a handful of amazing and engaging youth groups. These groups meet routinely and provide leadership opportunities, dynamic programming, and the chance to meet phenomenal new friends.  


Learn a New Language with Hebrew in the High: Did you know that Illinois has the most public schools out of any state that offer students the opportunity to study Hebrew?  11 Hebrew in the High Ambassadors are working to improve their public schools’ Hebrew programs and can help you connect with the unique opportunity to take Hebrew at your school.  


Travel with a Springboard School Break : Want to go somewhere new but only have a few days- or limited funds- to travel? Springboard School Break has 5 upcoming trips ranging 4-5 days. Travel to New York City (Feb 14-18) or St. Louis (Feb 15-19), explore Midwest colleges with your peers (March 24-28), BreakAway at Camp Chi (March 24-28) or take a take an interfaith journey through historic civil rights sights (April 14-17). 


Explore Some Place New This Summer : Ready to a real adventure? Travel the world or check out a new camp. There are a multitude of options to choose from!  


Make a Difference in our Community: Our community is filled with dozens of opportunities to volunteer and give back in both the Jewish community and the greater Chicagoland area. 


Spend More Time Outside: Spend your spring break enjoying an Outdoor Adventure or enjoy some fun in the sun this summer with new friends camp.  


Develop new skills with Internships and Fellowships: Ready to take your skills to the next level? Through internships and fellowships, you can develop leadership skills and other great qualities.  


Find the perfect Jewish opportunity for you - Meet with a Teen Engagement Specialist: Have questions about how you can get involved? Set up a meeting with one of our Teen Engagement Specialists! We will work with you to better understand your goals and connect you to right activities.  

Be sure to check out Springboard’s Community Calendar to see all of the amazing events coming up in the near future!  


Eric Golberg is a TES. You can learn more about him  here. Also don’t forget to follow Springboard at  SpringboardChicago on instagram!