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Meet Some of Your 18 Under 18 Honorees: Maddie Brim, Joey Greenebaum, Quincy Hirt, Chloe Wagner, and Rebecca Greenstein!

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Springboard Social Media Intern, Emily Fridland, interviewed some of our 18 Under 18 Honorees to hear a little bit about why they each were selected, what leadership means to them, and what advice they would give for those looking to get more involved in their communities. 

Maddie Brim

If you don’t already know Maddie Brim, she is definitely someone who you will want to get to know. She got involved in the Jewish community as a teen because she wanted to connect to her roots and traditions. Tradition is simply defined as the transmission of customs or beliefs from generation to generation, yet it is so much more than that. Growing up, she was able to look up to her parents and older siblings as role models for every activity she participated in. Being connected to her roots, and specifically her immediate family, is crucial to her as she grows up and becomes more involved in society. As she continues her journey to become a better Jew by helping spread good in the world, she says, “I look up to my family, and think of the amazing things they have accomplished, which gives me the passion and dedication to keep on working towards tomorrow.”

Whether it is her involvement with USY, or as a frequent JSC member, Maddie values the variety of Jewish programming throughout the community. She attends Camp Chi each summer, and this year will be a member of the SIT (staff in training) class of 2017. In addition to her involvement in the Jewish community, she has played field hockey on the JV team at Adlai E. Stevenson High School for the past two years, and been a member of Stevenson’s student council. In Maddie’s philosophy, leadership is not about a title or a designation. It's about impact, influence and inspiration. As a leader, Maddie would describe herself as a mentor, despite her young age.  

Maddie wants all Jewish teens to find the connections and ties in the community that she has.  She says:

“Despite the numerous opportunities that exist for us, there are few teens that really take advantage of them. Simple things like learning to understand the Hebrew in song and prayer can help create strong connections, just as I and my peers experienced as students in the Hebrew School program. Also, participating in USY gives us time to experience prayer as a community, which gives a new meaning to the same old songs. Like the Rabbis, Cantors, and teachers, Jewish teen leaders must display the passion we should all have for Judaism as a whole, modeling ahavat yisrael, our love for the Jewish people, ahavat Hashem, love of God, as well as the teachings from our torah, the mitzvot and commandments. If you still feel disconnected from Judaism, there are so many “Jewish” programs that explore other aspects of life besides prayer. With this in mind, I believe that one must really go out of their comfort zone to find what they enjoy doing in the community.

Joey Greenebaum

One of our amazing honorees, Joey Greenebaum, is involved in all sorts of activities. Joey is currently a senior at Homewood Flossmoor High School living in the south suburbs of Chicago. He has been participating in BBYO since the eighth grade and is now the president of the Chicago region. He also plays lacrosse and is a member of his school’s choir. Ever since he was a child, he was involved in the Jewish community. He attended a Jewish camp for three years but did not quite feel the deep Jewish connection he was hoping for. He was looking to understand his identity as a Jewish teen in the world on a global scale. After joining BBYO he found a deeper Jewish identity and has been exploring it ever since.

Joey would describe himself as a very verbal leader. He likes to help other teens develop their leadership skills and by letting them “take the reins” sometimes. By being a mediator as well as leading by example, he believes everyone in his chapter and region can be involved and happy. Joey’s Jewish identity is not based on being “religious” but it is about embracing Jewish values like making a difference in the world. Some advice he would give to teens looking to get involved in the Jewish community would be to get out of your comfort zone. He says, “If you are not looking to be very religious then you do not need to worry because being involved does not mean you have to be. However, getting involved begins with being selfless and willing. You must want to help others and try new things.”

 Quincy Hirt

Quincy Hirt is the youngest of three siblings.. He is a senior at Whitney Young High School in the city, where he serves as the captain of the volleyball team, president of the Jewish Student Connection, senior class president, and in his spare time is involved in Spanish honor society. He is a four-year member of Voices: The Chicago Jewish Teen Foundation, where he learned about philanthropy and grant-making.  Quincy started a nonprofit with a few friends. Their organization is called Chicago Youth Alliance for Climate Advocacy and helps spread awareness as well as taking action about climate change. He went to a Jewish day school before High School and has always been very involved in the Jewish community. He is a very positive person who likes to have fun and surround himself with like-minded people.

When Quincy graduated from Jewish day school he wanted to find a way to stay engaged in the community. He tried BBYO but ended up not continuing. He now participates in Jewish Student Connection at school, as well as Voices outside of school, because he really loves those connections to the Jewish community. He believes being Jewish is about living by the values the community has set and seeks out opportunities to work with teens and adults who share the same values.

Quincy describes himself as a very hands-on leader. He likes to lead but takes pride in knowing when to step back and let other try doing the task at hand. He always tries to act in the best interests of the group and to include everyone. He is charismatic and has a loud voice, which can help him take control of a room. He believes teens need to find their passion. He says, “There are so many different organizations you can join and many ways you can get involved. No matter what you want to do, get involved by using your passions from outside the Jewish community and bring them in. Get out there and try something; if you don’t like it, you can try so many other things. But definitely try!”

 Chloe Wagner

Chloe Wagner is a 16-year-old from Chicago and she is already an activist. She is the social action chair for the youth group at her congregation, Temple Shalom. She is the co-founder of Chicago Youth Take Action, and co- founder of Illinois Youth Chapter for Women’s March on Washington. At school she is the head of Students for Gender Equality and a member of The Queer-Straight Alliance Chloe is a participant in Research Training Internship, an exclusive, year-long program training female-identified Jewish teens in Participatory Action Research. When she is not involved in activist and social justice programs, Chloe is a figure skater.

From her involvement in so many activities, you might be surprised to know that Chloe moved to Chicago only a year and a half ago. She wanted to be involved in programs outside of school, so she turned to her Temple Youth Group and found it was a great place to be for social justice and Judaism. She is passionate about social justice and also loves working on teams or in groups. As a leader, she tries to gain perspective on everyone she is working with. Her advice for other teens is to “Just join…seek out your youth group because everyone is supportive and helpful and you will make friends and memories. It is so important to be involved as a teen!”

Rebecca Greenstein

Rebecca Greenstein is a senior at New Trier High School, and has had a wonderful time throughout the last few years getting involved in her community. On a more personal note, she has three siblings and is uniquely left handed. As far as being involved in her community, she currently works at her synagogue’s library, spends summers at Camp Ramah, and is immerses herself in CHUSY, her USY chapter. She currently holds the position of Religion and Education Vice President on the regional executive board of CHUSY, a very impressive position. As if that leadership role wasn't enough, she is also the co-president of Israel club at school, as well as the director of her school play. Rebecca enjoys traveling (especially to Israel), swimming, singing, dancing, and attending summer camp. Rebecca and her family has always been very involved in the Jewish Community, so she has grown up with seeing how important community was. Growing up at her synagogue, Rebecca saw her older cousins participating in their youth group, so she followed their lead and her involvement in the community developed from there on. As a leader, she would describe herself as a good listener, as well as someone who is compassionate, friendly, and kind. She holds a big leadership role in USY, and with this large role comes a large responsibility. She pushes people in her region to try new things and leave their comfort zone, but she also knows when to make them feel comfortable and be supportive. Lastly, through this position with USY, Rebecca has used learned that in order to be a strong leader, she has to always be kind and offer her help to others. She would tell her peers looking to get involved that they should find one friend they know who is involved in something, whether it is a youth group, a camp, or a program, and ask them about their experience because people are always happy to speak about their positive experiences and welcome in new individuals.