Blog with Springboard

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

Springboard Blog

Springboard Blog

Interfaith Day of Service

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Join  Tov Teens-Volunteering and  Children of Abraham Coalition in an interfaith day of service, Wednesday November 23rd from 10-12:30! Celebrate Thanksgiving and support the vulnerable members of our community by putting together hygiene kits and cards for homeless LGBTQ youth and immigrants held in detention centers. RSVP here:

Zev Blumenthal: Teen of the Month

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Mazel Tov to August Teen of the Month  Zev Blumenthal!


Zev has an incredibly heavy academic and extracurricular workload and still manages to participate meaningfully in Jewish events around Chicago. This year Zev held jobs as a photographer and waiter while also competing, and placing, in a national robotics competition with his schools robotics team. Academically, Zev is a great student and participates and helps run his schools JSU club in addition to his other extracurricular position as a Chapter Board member for  Midwest NCSY.

Thanks to  Levi Zeffren, for nomination Zev.

Do you know another outstanding teen? The Teen of The Month nomination form can be found at

Teen of the Month: Danielle Rose

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Spotlight on Danielle Rose

Mazel Tov to  Danielle Rose, the first ever Teen of the Month!

Danielle worked very hard to establish a pilot Hebrew Language Program at Vernon Hills High School in partnership with  The iCenter.

She is very passionate about Jewish learning and for two years has tutored struggling students at  Congregation Or Shalom-Vernon Hills. Danielle is also a participant in the prestigious  Diller Teen Fellowship where she learns leadership skills and deepens connections to Judaism and Israel. She is determined to become a leader, not only in her community and temple, but in the Greater Jewish Community and is always looking for ways to cheerfully volunteer.

Thanks to Sandra Epstein for nominating this fantastic teen!

Do you know another outstanding teen that should be recognized for the contributions they make to our community? The Teen of The Month nomination form can be found at


Teen of the Month: Hanna Schoeneman

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Spotlight on Hanna Schoeneman, Teen of the Month

Mazel Tov to Teen of the Month  Hanna Schoeneman (Sophomore, Niles North High School)

Hanna was nominated by community member, Esther Manewith. Hanna is a graduate of the Religious School at Ezra-Habonim, the Niles Township Jewish congregation. She also particiapted in last Spring’s Springboard School Break program, StudioChi. She stood out as a leader among the group and was selected to sit on the Springboard Teen advisory committee. You can learn about the 12 amazing school break programs Hanna helped select at . We are excited to honor Hanna as teen of the month. Thanks to Esther for nominating Hanna.

Do you know another outstanding teen that should be recognized for the contributions they make to our community? The Teen of The Month nomination form can be found at

Springboard @ the Movies

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#SpringboardSB is ready for its HOLLYWOOD debut! Heading the movies this weekend? Check out Springboard on the big screen at AMC Northbrook, AMC Naperville, AMC Skokie, Century 12 Evanston, Regal Lincolnshire and Regal Webster Place. Snap and share a picture and we’ll give you $5 to go back to the movies.

New survey gives insight into Jewish teens' attitudes and behaviors

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"As a community, we are heavily invested in identifying ways to engage teens in Jewish life," said Sarina Gerson, the director of Springboard, JUF's Teen Engagement Initiative. "While support of programs and outreach to teens are critical, it is equally, if not more important that we actually understand what teens want and work with them to create meaningful experiences." This lesson, she added, is emphasized in a new study,Generation Now: Understanding and Engaging Jewish Teens Today released by The Jewish Education Project."

Generation Now offers an unprecedented look at Jewish teens- their interests, hopes, beliefs, and more. Based on more than two years of research, focus groups, and surveys, the report outlines 14 outcomes that Jewish teen initiatives and programs should strive to achieve in order to have the deepest, most meaningful impact.

These outcomes would reflect a program's ability to impact teens both as human beings and as Jews. They include that teens: feel a sense of pride about being Jewish; experience learning that is both challenging and valuable; establish strong friendships with each other and their families; and feel inspired and empowered to make a positive difference in the world in which they live. 

"As our process of listening directly to teens unfolded, what we began to learn clearly warranted a complete paradigm shift in how the Jewish community approaches teen education and engagement," says David Bryfman, Chief Innovation Officer at The Jewish Education Project, who oversaw this research and compilation of the report. "We should develop Jewish opportunities in concert with teens and that address allaspects of their lives. As a whole, teens want to learn, want to be challenged, value family and friends, and they often seamlessly blend all facets of their identity and personality."

Although not every Jewish program will address all 14 recommended outcomes, as teens participate in multiple programs over the course of their development, the hope is that they will experience the majority of the outcomes. 

These outcomes-along with accompanying indicators and measurement tools-are already being field-tested in many communities. In Chicago, they are being used to measure the impact of existing programs for teens, as well as new, immersive, Jewish experiences taking place over school vacations through Springboard.

Gerson explains that a baseline survey of Jewish teens in Chicago was fielded in April and May to gain local insights. "We need to know how teens are connecting to existing programs, as well as how these programs might already be providing the outcomes we want," she said. "Springboard will support local programs by providing professional development, assistance with program design, and field-tested measurement tools to ensure that teens have access to the highest-quality Jewish experiences."

Generation Now builds on a 2013 report by the Jim Joseph Foundation . Following the release of that report, the Jim Joseph Foundation began partnering with funders in 10 US communities-including Chicago-to significantly invest further in Jewish teen education and engagement. 

The Jewish Education Project has run the National Incubator that has been working closely with these communities as they design and modify their teen initiatives based on the latest research.

"If we, as a community, are going to be successful at supporting meaningful and relevant Jewish learning experiences for teens," said Josh Miller, Program Director at the Jim Joseph Foundation, "we must be attuned to what matters most to them as human beings and as Jews."   

For more information about how JUF's engages local Jewish teens, see the Teens@JUFwebpage at .

JWF Dollars at Work: The Women Behind the Scenes

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Stephanie Goldfarb is not your average twenty-or-thirty-something. You might call her an overachiever. You might say she has an insatiable thirst for knowledge. However you see it, Chicago's Jewish United Fund (JUF) is lucky to have her.

She grew up in Scottsdale, Arizona in what Stephanie would call a "pretty normal Reform upbringing". Not unlike many young American Jews, she received a great deal of informal Jewish education throughout her childhood, including nine years of Jewish summer camp. In her family, the emphasis was not on religion but in preserving the cultural traditions of her heritage, and for Stephanie, that message translated into a lifelong commitment to her community. After high school, she set out as an undergraduate at Arizona State University to earn a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Gender Studies with the hope of someday finding a meaningful job in social work. To better prepare her for serving future clients and the community, she moved to Chicago to pursue two Master's Degrees from Loyola University, one in Gender Studies and another in Clinical Social Work.

Today, as Program Director of Youth Philanthropy and Leadership in the Jewish United Fund's Community Outreach and Engagement Department, she is the director of two innovative programs working with Chicago's Jewish youth. Voices: The Chicago Jewish Teen Foundation introduces teens to professional philanthropy and grantmaking through a Jewish lens to prepare them for their final year-end project: allocating $25,000 to programs positively impacting change in their community and abroad. Her second program, the Research Training Internship(RTI), is a paid internship for a small group of high-school aged girls to explore the social justice issues of privilege, power, and intersectionality through a feminist lens.