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

8 Reasons Why You Should Check Out Springboard

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In the spirit of the miraculous 8 nights of Hannukah, see what our Springboard Social Media Interns have to say about why YOU should check out Springboard in 2017!

1. ✡ Make new Friends

✡ Make new Friends

Traveling with someone on one of Springboard’s numerous School Break opportunities can create meaningful relationships and lead to brand new friendships

2. ✡ Discover Your Local Community

✡ Discover Your Local Community

Springboard’s Teen Engagement Specialists, Tamara and Brittany, are excited to talk to you about your interests and to help you find a programs that suits you best. They love to get coffee with teens and their parents, and chat about fun programs or trips happening- so head to and shoot them an email now!

3. ✡ Explore New Places

✡ Explore New Places

Spend your spring break exploring a new place during one of Springboard’s exciting School Break programs. Spend time in the city of Chicago or the hills of Wisconsin instead of sitting at home.

4. ✡ Strengthen your Jewish Identity

✡ Strengthen your Jewish Identity:

Learn more about the Jewish community and Jewish values while having fun during your School Break. Being Jewish is awesome when you have the right community of friends to do it with.

5. ✡ Inspire New Achievements

✡ Inspire New Achievements

Doing what you’re passionate about can encourage you to take on new challenges, whether it’s changing the world or building a tree house, check out programs that inspire you to accomplish big goals.

6. ✡ Discover What You Love

✡ Discover What You Love

Doing what you love ensures happiness in yourself and others. Head over to the Community Calendar @ to find events that align with your interests- you may even discover new programs to check out!

7. ✡ Gain Awesome Skills

✡ Gain Awesome Skills

Springboard’s School Break programs give participants a chance to explore a variety of different types of programs. Try something new and unleash your creativity, while learning about yourself. One awesome skill that participants gained last year was learning how to make a film!

8. ✡ Find Great Role Models

✡ Find Great Role Models

Tamara and Brittany will work with you to find awesome opportunities in the Chicagoland Jewish community. They are great role models and are always down to hang out at youth programs! Follow @SpringboardChicago on Instagram and to say hi and interact with them on social media!

The Taste of Tradition

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Food has always been an integral part of Jewish tradition and celebration. From challah on Shabbat to symbolic foods at the Passover seder to culturally “Jewish” foods like bagels and hummus, almost everyone has a memory linked to Jewish food. This spring, aspiring chefs and foodies can immerse themselves in one of two amazing school break experiences through Springboard, a community initiative created with the support of JUF/Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Chicago, the Jim Joseph Foundation and a consortium of local funders. 

Thanks to the staff of JCC Camp Chi and Pushing the Envelope Farm, two of our Springboard School Break providers, for their sharing two delicious recipes. Hungry for more?  Reserve your spot on Breakaway or Farm-to-Table Chef's Immersion TODAY!

Chocolate 15’s from JCC Camp Chi 
15 Graham crackers
30-40 Chocolate chips
15 Marshmallows
Small Can of Condensed milk             

Place graham crackers into bowl and crush up into very fine crumbs.
Cut each marshmallow up into 6 pieces.
Mix the marshmallows and chocolate chips into the bowl of crushed crackers.
Slowly pour the condensed milk over the mixture and combine.
Mixture should be moist and solid. If it is too dry, add more condensed milk. If it is too wet, add more crushed graham crackers. The mixture is the right consistency if a spoon can stand up in it.
Pour mixture on to plastic wrap or tin foil. Then roll into a sausage shape.
Place in fridge for an hour or until firm.
Using a sharp knife, cut into chunky disks or pieces.

Curried Sweet Potato Latkes
Adapted from Joan Nathan’s Jewish Cooking in America by the team at Pushing the Envelope Farm
1 pound sweet potatoes, peeled (scrub well if you do not peel)
1/2 cup all-purpose flour ( gluten-free is possible)
2 teaspoons sugar
1 teaspoon brown sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon cayenne powder (or less to taste)
2 teaspoons curry powder
1 teaspoon ground cumin
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
2 large eggs, beaten
1/2 cup milk (approximately)(can use water or nut milk for a pareve recipe)
Peanut or light olive oil for frying

1. Grate the sweet potatoes coarsely. In a separate bowl mix the flour, sugar, brown sugar, baking powder, cayenne pepper, curry powder, cumin, and salt and pepper.
2. Add the eggs and just enough milk to the dry ingredients to make a stiff batter. Add the potatoes and mix. The batter should be moist but not runny; if too stiff, add more milk.
3. Heat 1/4 inch of peanut or light olive oil in a frying pan until it is barely smoking. Drop in the batter by tablespoons and flatten. Fry over medium-high heat several minutes on each side until golden. Drain on paper towels and serve.
Yields 16 three-inch pancakes

As they say in Hebrew B'teavon or Dig In! 

Springboard Social Media Interns Give Thanks

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'Tis the season for expressing gratitude. We at Springboard are thankful for our fantastic Social Media Interns and below they share the local organizations and experiences they are most thankful for. 

Emily Fridland: 

“I am thankful for to Israel on Ta'am Yisrael because it changed my life. Going on Ta'am Yisrael was not my first time going to the holy land, but it sure was a life changing one. I met tons of new friends, visited the holiest sites, ate the most amazing food, and had lots of fun. Whether it was waking up at 4 am to hike up Masada, seeing an Ethiopian comedian, eating shakshuka at one of the finest restaurants in Jaffa, standing in the hallway of my hotel straightening boys’ hair, Israel was full of the most amazing experiences I had ever witnessed. My two best friends as of right now were people that I met on the trip. Close to 1/3 of camera roll on my phone is just filled with pictures from Israel. I am now so much more involved with youth groups, services at temple, and just Jewish activities in general. It would have never happened had I not gone on this trip. The entire week was so action packed that looking back it seems like it was 2 weeks because we did so much in the one week we went. 

One of my biggest takeaway from this trip, was really figuring out what my own Jewish identity is. I never, ever would have been able to do that without this trip. I really learned what it means to be a Jewish person in both Israel, and bring it back here to Chicago. I learned my history and my present and it gave me the ability to see what kind of change I want to make in this world. Never have I been so happy to be Jewish in life before this trip. I used to not be religious at all, but now I do my best to keep kosher, go to Friday night services, and attend any Jewish events around me. I will forever be grateful to the entire trip of Ta'am Yisrael for giving me the gateway to do that and help me figure out who I am."

 Maddie Brim: 

This Thanksgiving I am thankful for USY because it gave me the opportunity to meet my best friends! As a young eighth grader I was not inclined to go to a Jewish program, in which I knew no one else except for my sister, Miranda. As a sophomore now, I am very grateful for my sister's instinct to push me into going to my first event. USY is an organization built through relationships, and not only have I made the best of friends, I guarantee that you will also. We're not just a conservative Jewish youth group that prays, we participate in innovative programming that allows us to experience Judaism in a whole new way. Through USY I have been able to connect to myself and my friends through Judaism in ways I never would've seemed possible. Whether it's USY, NFTY,  JSC, or Springboard I encourage you to get involved in any way you can because Jewish youth groups and opportunities have allowed me to experience Judaism differently instead of just through prayer, and allows myself to make memories and best friends that last a lifetime. 

Springboard is just one of many Jewish opportunities that allows teenagers to be involved with other Jewish teenagers like them. Building these types of relationships is an opportunity that you do not want to miss, and I certainly won't be missing this year on the Big Apple trip to New York and Cooking Experience at Camp Chi during presidents weekend and spring break! So bring yourself and your friends for the experience of a lifetime on any springboard trips that fit your style!”

Avery Hessel: 

“Camp Nageela is a Jewish overnight summer camp that I have been going to for two years, next year will be my third. I have been going because some friends from school and Hebrew school had been going, and their Shabbatons were always fun. Many of my friends include Mollie, Elianna, Lirit, Heather, Hailey, Liat, and many more. Around them, I truly feel like I can be myself. No matter what we talked about, we always connected and joked together in a sense that we understood. I feel accepted, understood, and welcome among them. I am able to speak to them and talk about how I feel without feeling judged. Nageela is a very open and friendly place, and I was always surrounded by my friends.

Camp is a wonderful place to meet friends and feel understood, no matter which camp you go to. Camp friends are different from regular friends because you create a special bond with them at camp. This Thanksgiving, I am thankful for my camp friends because I have a special bond with amazing people that I could never find anywhere else.”

StudioChi Teens Stand Up Against Cyber-Bullying

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Seventeen Jewish teens from 13 schools spent their spring break writing, filming, acting in and editing an anti-bullying video through  Springboard , a new initiative to increase the number of Chicagoland teens engaged in Jewish life.  

At JCC Camp Chi in Lake Delton, Wisc., participants in StudioChi learned about the filmmaking process, Jewish values and social media under the guidance of filmmaker Kobi Swissa. The group decided to focus their project on cyber-bullying, drawing on the Jewish values of kavod (respect) and chesed (kindness). 

Watch their film, "Be Kind. Be Respectful. Be Human," at:

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.