Springboard Social Media Intern, Evie Katz-Palka, interviewed some of our 18 Under 18 Honorees to hear a little bit about why they were selected, what leadership means to them, and what advice they would give for those looking to get more involved in their communities.
Daphne Budin is very honored and excited to be selected for 18 under 18. Daphne is a part of USY, BBYO, and goes to Camp Ramah Wisconsin, a Conservative Jewish camp in Northern Wisconsin. She attends Rochelle Zell Jewish High School. One admirable thing that she loves to do in her free time is volunteer at a home for the elderly, making arts and crafts and bringing light to the residents’ lives. Daphne thinks that having meaningful interactions with others, and helping the community she lives in, makes for a strong leader. Another way that Daphne feels someone can be a leader in their community is by leading by example, and that when you can give to your community, others will feed off of it and do the same. Daphne initially got involved in her Jewish community because she loved the feeling of meeting new people, and being with her Jewish friends has made her high school experience so much more enjoyable. “Being a part of the Jewish community is a good way to put yourself out there, makes you a better person as well as shows a different side of yourself and all the above makes you feel good!” Daphne said. Overall, Daphne is a great influence on the Jewish community and we are so excited to be honoring her at 18 Under 18.
Michael Rubin first got involved in the Jewish community around 8th grade because he wanted to find his own unique Jewish identity. Since then, he became heavily involved in USY, specifically in CHUSY, the Chicagoland chapter, as well as a Madrich at his synagogue. His mom came from a Conservative Jewish family, while his dad came from a Reform Jewish family. Even though his parents had Jewish identities, Michael did not feel that his identity was as strong as it could be and that his Jewish identity wasn’t as big of a part of his life as it had potential for. This is why he decided to get involved in many different aspects of the Jewish community. He is now is a part of both the Reform and Conservative movements, taking a little after both of his parents. He sees himself as a leader who takes a stand when needed, he feels natural in the position and believes people look up to him. Michael's advice to someone in search of getting involved, coming from his own experience, is “find your own voice in Judaism, find your own place. Be powerful!” He is extremely honored to be one of the 18 Under 18 Honorees and feels greatly thankful for all that he has been able to accomplish and be a part of during the last four years of high school. Being a leader has made him a better person and Michael has really made an impact on the Jewish community, especially in USY which he has loved.
Abby Tzinberg was so thrilled when she found out she was being picked, out of so many wonderful people, to be one of the 18 Under 18 Honorees! Abby does a number of activities both inside and outside of the Jewish community, and is thrilled to be recognized for all of her accomplishments. She is a Madricha at her Synagogue, a B’nai Mitzvah tutor for sixth graders, an assistant for children with special needs, an avid youth group participant in NFTY, an OSRUI camper, and a passionate participant in Or Tzedek, The Jewish Council on Urban Affair’s teen Social Justice program. Originally, Abby started getting involved in her youth group because her Cantor, as well as another friend, encouraged her to go to an event and just try it out. After her first event, she immediately knew that she loved it and was excited to get even more involved in her youth group, and the community overall. She kept going to more and more events, meeting new people and finding her voice. She feels that youth group has made herself a better person and shown her that she can be a strong and vibrant leader. Other things she does outside of the Jewish Community include participating in Speech Team and musicals. Abby sees herself as a leader that is responsible and is able to lead others with compassion and respect. She believes that instead of patronizing those younger or less experienced, leading by example is the best way to be a leader and guide others. Abby is an extraordinary person and is a great leader in the community.
Meet Gabriella Cooperman, one of our stellar teens who manages to be involved in many different aspects of the Jewish community, all while maintaining poise and commitment to her obligations. She is a part of USY, Voices: The Chicago Jewish Teen Foundation, the JUF Hebrew Engagement Committee, and Jewish Student Connection (JSC). One thing that makes Gabriella so unique is the fact that, at such a young age, she has already started not one, but two different charities! She got involved in USY because her friend said she should run for Freshman Representative on the board. So she started going to events and fell in love. Now she is on USY’s International Board. She joined JSC because her teacher said it would be extra credit but it turned out to be something she really loved doing. As for her charities, she saw a need and wanted to help. Gabriella sees herself as a good and strong leader. She thinks that there is a time to shine and a time to step back and let others shine. An example she gave was that she has been a part of the cast and crew in the theatre world, which taught her to know when to help to let others shine and when it's her turn. Gabriella's advice for any other teens thinking about getting more involved and finding their fit within the community is, “Never be afraid of that awkward conversation. The part of the conversation when you first introduce yourself is hard, but it is worth it.” Lastly, Gabriella likes to be a friendly face in her community and feel recognized as someone who is a leader and can help mentor others. When giving advice to her peers about whether or not to dive into different programs, youth groups, or opportunities, Gabriella says, “Take a step and see.” We are so excited Gabriella took that step, and can’t wait to honor her this Tuesday at 18 Under 18!