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From Player to Coach by Jodi Marver

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Looking back on my high school years, the one big event that impacted my life in such a positive manner was participating in the Maccabi games. Back in 2008, I remember one of my high school basketball teammates telling me to join and I am so glad I did! My experience with Maccabi gave me the opportunity to play basketball at a high level, travel to a new city, participate in fun events at night, but most importantly, make lifelong friends. It was such a highlight of my summer to do Maccabi and really helped shape me into the person I am today. After graduating college, I knew going back to Maccabi as a coach was something I really wanted to do because it was a program that had such a great impact on my life. Now, I get to see the huge smile on these girls' faces as they get to participate in all the amazing events that Maccabi brings to kids. More so, I get to coach alongside my best friend Lena Munzer who I met at the Maccabi games back in 2008. Maccabi is bigger than sports, it’s about finding a connection to other kids who are similar to you from all over the world. This is a great way for young adults to feel a part of their Jewish background while also gaining new experiences. My memories from Maccabi as a player and coach have been some of the best memories of my life!

Jodi Marver

Jodi Marver is Chicago’s 16U Maccabi Girls Basketball Coach. Outside of Maccabi she is the Head Varsity Girls Basketball Coach and Physical Education Teacher at Willows Academy. Jodi went to Knox College where she studied Elementary Education and was an elementary school teacher for 4 years before transitioning to secondary education. Jodi is thrilled to continue to give back to the Maccabi community that has given so much to her when she was younger.

 

#RepairTheWorldWednesday with Jake Draluck

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Creating positivity in the Middle of a Pandemic by Jake Draluck

Prior to the pandemic, probably like most of you, I was keeping up an intense schedule which will sound familiar: classes, sports, clubs, friends and a ton of homework. Then the pandemic hit in March 2020, my school abruptly closed its doors, and I was unexpectedly stuck at home with tons of free time and nothing particularly relevant to do. With the TV on all the time in my kitchen, I heard Governor Pritzker mandate that face coverings be worn in all public places, and I began to wonder how everyone in the Chicago area would be able to get masks when, back in May, they had become so difficult to find at any price?

As I researched this topic, I confirmed that Illinois’ mask order did not provide any funding for people who could not afford or obtain masks on their own. Because my Dad is a doctor and we had access to masks early on, I contacted some of the local food pantries to see if I could be helpful in getting masks to their clients. In my conversations with these organizations, I learned that not only was the lack of access to masks causing anxiety for pantry clients, but that pandemic-related unemployment had created a large demand for other basic hygiene products—items like deodorant, razors, toothpaste, and other necessities were often overlooked by donors, even though these essential items had become impossibly expensive for those who had lost their jobs. 

When I learned that hygiene products, including masks, cannot be purchased with SNAP Cards or through any other government assistance programs, and that so few people are aware of this problem, I created a nonprofit organization called We Got You to try to become part of the solution. So far We Got You has donated over 6500 hygiene products, hygiene kits and laundry kits to people in our Chicago area community who have been struggling to afford them, and we have partnered with several social impact organizations to help us get these items distributed to those in need. 

Please visit us at www.wegotyoualways.org to learn more about our mission to see how you can help! If you like our message and are looking for an easy way to be involved, please consider hosting a hygiene product drive at your school or synagogue or youth group—we would be happy to pick up any donations that you have, and we accept any size items—from travel size to full size. If you know how to make masks, please consider donating homemade masks to us for distribution with our other supplies!

If you have your own idea for a project, I know it’s easy to get overwhelmed and not know where to start. When in doubt, my advice is to start small, start local, and work your way up from there. Any amount of positive change you can make in the world will help someone, somewhere, and is worth making!

Jake Draluck

Jake is a junior at Phillips Exeter Academy in New Hampshire, where he is a member of the Boys Crew Team, Exeter Jewish Community (EJC), Investment Club, Economics Club, and Exeter Student Service Organization, among other clubs, and serves as a Proctor for the Exeter Film Department. In Chicago, Jake is a rowing instructor at the Alliance Rowing Club of Chicago, and is a Diller Teen Fellow (2018-2019 Cohort). He is also the founder and President of Deadstock Chicago, a sneaker and streetwear resale company.  

March Madness by Alex Newman

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Whether I’ve been the one competing or watching from my couch, sports have always been a huge part of my life. The first sport I played was soccer when I was 3. After that it was t-ball, then baseball, then basketball, then flag football, and now Ultimate Frisbee and Track and Field. I started playing Ultimate Frisbee for Walter Payton when I was in 8th grade, switching to Lane’s team once I became a Lane student, and I’ve heard all of the jokes. I’ll be the first to admit that it’s an incredibly niche sport, but I still love it. I’ve also been on the Girls’ Track and Field team for two years, which has been just as awesome of an experience. When Covid winds down, the thing I’m most excited for is definitely going back to practices, meets, tournaments, and just seeing my teammates again.  

I also love watching sports just as much as playing them. I love Chicago teams, especially the Bears, and I play fantasy football and hockey with my friends. The one area of sports that I’ve never fully jumped into was college basketball, until now. Since we’ve started working on this bracket tournament I’ve definitely been doing my research and, while I can’t make any bold predictions right now, I’m certainly rooting for Illinois. As I’m writing this, they have the No. 2 seed but, after their wins against Michigan last week and Ohio State as their last regular season game, the No. 1 spot is definitely in view. Plus, a lot of my friends and old teammates go to Illinois, so I’m emotionally invested as well. 

Alex Newman is a Junior at Lane Tech High School where she’s on the Track and Field team, is the co-president and captain of the Ultimate Frisbee team, and a member of the Omega program. Outside of school, Alex is the secretary of the Piece by Peace organization, a youth outreach program run but students. Alex’s work with these programs has been rooted in her Jewish values, specifically that of community.



A Celebration of Jewish Teen Community

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18 Under 18 Announcement

Springboard is proud to be able to recognize the incredible work of Jewish teen leaders in our community. The 18 Under 18 award is one that elevates the work of a selected group of teens who have demonstrated innovation, passion, and resiliency in the face of the unknown. This year we had a record-breaking number of nominations, which speaks to the quality teen leadership in our community, which we are lucky to benefit from. 18 Under 18 Honorees are teens who are leveraging Jewish values to inform their leadership and making a difference through formal and informal leadership roles both inside and outside the Jewish community. This year's 18 Under 18 Honorees exemplify what a teen leader can accomplish, and we are honored to be able to support, recognize, and work with them. 

As part of the 18 Under 18 award, all honorees complete an Impact Project. An Impact Project can take many different forms, however they will all elevate our community, as well as address hot topics that the honorees select themselves based off their passions. This years’ Honorees are focusing on a number of different areas: Addressing resource inequality, inclusion and diversity, racial equality, mental and physical health advocacy, environmentalism, Israel education, and Holocaust education.  

One way we celebrate these incredible teens in by hosting a Drive In Community Celebration which YOU are invited to! At the Community Celebration you will have the opportunity to learn more about the Honorees Impact projects and how they are elevating community. There will be goodie bags, live entertainment, and more! Click here to register and we can’t wait to see you from a safe distance on April 25th!  


#MarchMadness with Hannah Goldwin

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I am a highly superstitious person for no reason at all. No tangible wish I’ve made on an eyelash has come fantastically true and changed the course of my life. Running to the nearest wall to knock on wood or not doing so has not altered my entire life- that I know of. Yet each year as I submit my March Madness bracket in a variety of pools I will read each potential match-up and winner to myself out loud and then kiss my fingers and press submit. Unlike my other superstitions, I can give you the exact root of this tradition. 

In middle school, I was given the wonderfully transformative opportunity to submit a bracket in the faculty competition. I was up against basketball fanatic security guards, maintenance staff, and my own teachers. While the bracket was submitted under my mother’s name, it was my baby. I did hours of research just like expecting parents. Statistics rolled off my tongue after watching as many hours of ESPN as my homework schedule allowed. Yet when it came down to the deadline, I felt unprepared. I had sporadically watched March Madness over the years and the thought of a 16 seed beating a 1 seed was completely impossible in my mind (Spoiler: it happened). I chose to speak my predictions into existence and read the bracket out loud to myself. I then decided there was no time like the present, kissed my hand, and clicked submit. After around 3 weeks of stress and constant distraction by that day’s games, it came down to the championship. I wasn’t ready for the roller coaster to be over. Each day as many of us sat in class secretly watching scores while writing essays and doing work, I felt a sense of community. You could see slight flashes of disappointment across the room when the score updated in favor of the huge underdog and the tapping of sneakers against the tiled floor when games came down to the wire. There was always a bracket discussion going on in the hallway whether it be an argument or statistical analysis. But the end was looming and I was sitting just off the podium in 5th place- out of 80 brackets if I may add. Fast forward a stressful three hours where I was brought to the verge of tears multiple times and my predicted winner came out victorious, The UNC Tarheels. The point values of our competition were perplexing to me so I was completely baffled as to how this would affect the final standings. I fell asleep that night satisfied. And the next morning I raced to check my email as if it was Instagram. Though it may sound cliché, my heart was thumping in my chest so hard my entire body shook with each beat. I opened the PDF at the top of my inbox and found my name highlighted in yellow with 3rd place next to it. My heart swelled with pride. The sense of accomplishment and fulfillment I felt in that moment has been almost unmatched since. I collected my prize money later that day and carried the envelope home as if it was my most expensive possession- which it may have been. My read-aloud and kissing had worked. It hasn’t worked every time since but I’m surely not willing to give it up yet. 

March Madness

Hannah Goldwin is a Junior at Walter Payton College Prep and plays tennis as well as dabbles in ultimate frisbee and basketball. She leads clubs devoted to Alzheimer’s awareness, Jewish Community, and the discussion of a top notch educational show, the Bachelor. She watches football religiously and recently graduated from the Diller Teen Fellowship.

My Experience at Genesis - One of the Best Summers of my Life

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On July 2nd, 2019, I was getting ready to leave for the airport, and I was TERRIFIED. In just a few hours, I would be in Boston, where I would be living with a bunch of kids whom I had never met. About a month later, I was crying because I never wanted to leave.

The Genesis program is truly a unique and amazing experience. I met people from all around the world! Everyone had a different Jewish background and story, and I made friends with some amazing people. The best part? I got to live with all of them! Staying on a college campus was such a new and fun experience for me. I got to live with a roommate, eat at the dining hall with my friends, and chill out around campus, just like a college student! We weren’t on campus the whole time, though. On the fourth of July, we went to see fireworks, and one time, we got to spend the day shopping around Boston. Going on these trips with all of my friends was so much fun (even the Walgreens trips!). One of the best parts of Genesis was the Shabbat ceremonies, because being together and celebrating as a community was so special.

I can’t talk about Genesis without talking about the classes. Genesis gave me the opportunity to take courses that I don’t think I ever would have taken otherwise. The first course that I took was Culinary Arts and Anthropology, with cookbook author Jeffery Yoskovitz. Even though I had little to no cooking experience, I had so much fun. Over the course of two weeks, we learned about all different kinds of Jewish foods and their history. We had discussions about what makes Jewish food Jewish and how these foods play a role in Jewish culture. Getting to have these discussions with people from different Jewish backgrounds was so interesting. Of course, we got to cook a lot of these foods too! Being able to sit down and talk about food in a school-like environment and then immediately go into the kitchen to cook made it such an immersive learning experience. We made everything from sufganiyot to cheese (from scratch). We even had a contest one day to see who could make the best dish using only the leftover food from the kitchen. Making a whole dish all by myself was definitely out of my comfort zone, but this ended up being one of my favorite days. 

During the last two weeks, I took the Global Religions course, which was both incredibly interesting and meaningful. Coming from 10 years of Jewish day school, I knew tons about Judaism, but I never learned that much about other religions, so I was looking forward to this class. Each day, we had engaging discussions and lectures about a new religion. It felt just like taking a religious studies class at a college! The field trips really made this course special. Even though the course was only two weeks long, we visited so many places of worship, like an AME Church and a Hindu temple. We even participated in a Buddhist meditation! These trips gave us a first-hand experience of different religious services and allowed us to talk to people who practice these religions. One of my favorite parts of these trips was looking at the architecture. Each place we visited was beautiful and unique. I loved looking at all of the details around and inside the buildings and learning about their meanings and history. To finish the course, each of us created a family tree with explanations of our Jewish origins, giving us a better understanding of how diverse Judaism truly is.

If you are considering applying for Genesis, I highly encourage you to do so. I could not recommend the program enough, and it was one of the best summers of my life.

Yanira is a junior and a full IB student at Beacon Academy. She attended Brandeis’ Genesis program in 2019, graduated from Diller Teen Fellows last year, and is currently a part of RTI (research training internship). She frequently reads Torah at her synagogue and is currently continuing to learn Hebrew outside of school.

#RepairTheWorldWednesday with Ethan Comrov

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Ethan Comrov

Eliminating Anti-Semitism; One Relationship At A Time

Growing up in a Jewish Community meant always being surrounded by a familiar tradition and practice. I went to a Jewish middle school during the week and attended synagogue on Shabbat. I would go through the motions of my everyday life nonchalantly, uninterested in the outside world which always seemed so foreign and irrelevant to me. It was not until I had experienced my first few encounters with anti-semtism that I would turn to the rest of the world and wonder: How come I, as a Jewish person, receive so much hate? 

I struggled to answer this question throughout eighth grade and the beginning of high school. It bothered me that Jewish people around the world were constantly being persecuted and attacked yet, the world seemed to just stand by and observe without taking action. I wanted to defend myself and my religion but I did not know how. 

Luckily, in my sophomore year of high school, my school launched a program called Student to Student. Inspired by a similar program in St. Louis, Student to Student aimed to educate and inform non-Jewish teenagers about Judaism. By having Jewish teenagers interact with other teenagers who shared little knowledge about Judaism, a relationship was formed that served to fight anti-semitism by simply connecting with the other teens.

I joined the program as soon as I had heard about it and after my first few presentations at public schools in Naperville and Catholic schools in Mount Prospect, I felt confident about my ability to defend myself and my religion. I encountered difficult questions that challenged my knowledge and I saw teenagers of a different faith interacting with me as they listened to what I had to share. 

After almost two full years of presenting to students at various different schools, I realized that I had entered a completely different world than the one in which I had grown up in. Student to Student had taught me that combating anti-semtism does not just occur in a classroom, rather it is a daily mission that can be fought anywhere in the world. As a Jewish teenager living in the United States, it is my responsibility to present myself to society as a mature and educated person. My character is a representation of the Jewish people and it is my responsibility to be a good influence and example on behalf of our nation.

The most important lesson that I have learned from my time educating, inspiring, and informing others is that ignorance is the root of anti-semitism especially in society today. If one does not know anything about a different person their minds instantly form preconceived notions about them based on their looks, background, and personality. When it comes to anti-semitism, most poeple are uneducated and lack understanding of how Judaism is observed. This is the fundamental basis of modern anti-semtism. I have interacted with over a thousand students by now and whenever I present to a different group, I can see the understanding build up in their minds. I can see them start to rethink certain ideas that might have encompassed before about Jewish people. The relationship that is created between me and another teen is crucial in preventing the spread of anti-semitism. 

In my time with Student to Student I have engaged with many students and educators and I have allowed my ability to connect and teach people to flow beyond the classroom and into my daily life. Whether it is participating in sports events or attending a concert, my influence and my reach goes further than anything that I could have envisioned. The relationships that I have formed over the years with countless individuals shows me that there is a way to fight anti-semtism. There is a way to stop the hate. As a Jewish teen, it is my responsibility to advocate for myself and my religion as every relationship that I form has the potential to change the mindset and perspective of countless others. We can stop the hate. It only takes one voice to make a difference in this world.

Ethan Comrov is a junior at Ida Crown Jewish Academy. He plays basketball and soccer and runs cross country. He is also a board member of his schools Israel Advocacy Club as well as being an adamant participant of Chicago’s Student to Student organization. Ethan is currently the Vice-President of Education for Midwest NCSY. Ethan is passionate about Israel advocacy and education.



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