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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. 

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