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 danielleburstyn@juf.org.


Springboard Blog

Springboard Blog

Meet our new Program Director of Teen Social Change Initiatives, Shoshi Shapiro

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My name is Shoshi Shapiro, and I am very excited to join JUF as the new Program Director for Teen Social Change Initiatives. Core to my beliefs is that every individual can make a difference (yes, Tikkun Olam was engrained in me early), and I am looking forward to connecting my personal values to work. 

To give you a little more about me, I grew up in NYC and came to the Chicago area for college. I studied Learning Science in the School of Education and Social Policy at Northwestern and completed certificates in Civic Engagement and Human-Centered Design. The nerd in me loves talking about human-centered design, museums and why voting in local elections matters thanks to my time in college. I also staffed USY on Wheels and Pilgrimage, which were two of the most meaningful summers spent exploring Jewish history and identity and of course racking up new states and countries.  

Fast forward a few years, I now live in West Lakeview. Shabbat and sharing Judaism with friends are part of my everyday life. I also foster dogs and adoption counsel through a local rescue, am an avid women’s basketball fan (both college and pro), sail in the summer with my dad, and assemble excellent cheese plates.  

Below are two photos- one of me and friends meeting the legendary Candace Parker (I am the one on her right), and the second is of my currently adoptable foster Auden who was very upset I was packing and insisted I not by sitting on the clothes. 

I am again so excited to be here and can’t wait to meet and make impact with you all!  

Candace Parker and Auden

Don’t Miss Upcoming program and Scholarship Deadlines

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Summer is just around the corner! Summer and School year leadership programs for the 24-25 school year are now accepting applications.  Here are some great experiences to check out.  

AMHSI Classic Program in Israel: Classic 6-week academic program, formally known as Foundations Israel, will take students on a 4,000-year journey throughout the History and Culture of Israel beginning with the Middle Bronze Age and ending with the Modern Middle East.Located outside of Tel Aviv in the city of Hod HaSharon, the AMHSI campus features renovated dorms, dining room, basketball courts, running track, music room, and the ability to walk to shops, restaurants, a smoothie bar, and much more Students are eligible for high school credits and optional college credits. Learn more and sign up here. 

Genesis Precollege Summer Program: Join an incredible Jewish learning community this summer at Genesis! You'll take classes taught by passionate Jewish educators, make incredible friends, and experience life on a college campus. Scholarships available, learn more and register here. 

Hartman Teen Fellowship: The Fellowship will run from September 2024 through May 2025. Applications are due May 31st. Jewish teens have big questions, face challenging dilemmas, and are searching for a place to explore new ideas. The Hartman Teen Fellowship is an extraordinary opportunity for North American high schoolers in grades 10-12 to cultivate Jewish identities that value Jewish Peoplehood, Israel, and humanity. Fellows will develop the tools to build an informed, meaningful, and bright Jewish future. Learn more and register here. 

JUF Israel Scholarships: Apply for a JUF Israel experience scholarships for fall and academic year programs. The deadline is June 1st and awards will be announced in mid-July.  

Springboard Access Grants: Now it’s even easier to try new programs in the Jewish community. With a Springboard Access Grant Springboard will provide up to 50% of tuition costs of your first overnight Jewish teen program up to $300 Learn more and apply here. 


My Experience as a jGirls+ Magazine Editor

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I am sitting at my desk at home in Evanston IL, talking with teens across the country about submissions to jGirls+, a national online Jewish literary magazine. The meeting starts with catching up and lots of laughter, but then we transition to reviewing each piece. We think about its structure, the content, the perspective, and then think about the edits we would make. We discuss the author’s meaning and the context. Together, we joke and share stories, but mostly we debate. These meetings are a teen-only space and leave me feeling empowered. Sometimes I change my mind about the strength of a piece or the underlying issue, and sometimes I don’t. But after each discussion, I emerge understanding the world and myself a bit better than when I evaluated the piece on my own. When our meeting is over, I haven’t left my chair, but I have grown and changed in ways I didn’t expect.

The people on the Editorial Board and Photography board are like me in that they are Jewish and are passionate about writing, but they are also different from me. Together we represent 15 states, 25 different Jewish practices (each of us is unique), and multiple ways of thinking. Each year we gather in New York City for an in-person retreat. Throughout the year, we also have the chance to learn from experts and build our skills. Just a couple weeks ago, I led a meeting with the editor of Hey Alma (how cool is that!).

If I had to choose one word to describe my experience at jGirls+ it would be fulfilling. From having the opportunity to produce timely and meaningful content to creating such genuine friendships, I feel so lucky to be part of such an incredible Jewish community. I applied with hopes of becoming a better editor, but I have gained so much more. 

** We accept writing and art submissions all-year round from Jewish girls and non-binary teens on any subject and any genre. We are also seeking content reflecting Jewish teen responses to the Israel-Hamas war. All perspectives are always welcome.

Apply to be on the editorial and photography board here (applications are due March 26th, extensions available upon request): 

https://jgirlsmagazine.org/take-action/#teen-staff

Submit writing here: https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSfX7mq6icX5yJcoO63P5SHQMR-pq3MJvMEEpjblHBawrUpp4w/viewform

Browse the website here: 

https://jgirlsmagazine.org/

About the author: Isabel Rosenberg (she/her), a senior at Evanston Township High School, loves to create – everything from dance choreography to stories. Through her work as an editor and department head for jGirls+ Magazine, a national Jewish literary magazine, she is able to help others share their stories. Isabel is one of this year’s 18 Under 18 Honorees. 

Isabel Rosenberg

What Makes BBYO Special to Me?

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The B’nai Brith Youth Organization (BBYO): a pluralistic teen movement; a home. A non-profit organization that helps Jewish teens build their identity; somewhere memories are made, laughter is shared, and meaningful connections are built. 

A few months ago, I was having a conversation with a new prospect, trying to find the words to describe how incredible our movement is. She was asking questions such as “How do I become a member?” “What does membership entail?” “Which chapter would I be in?” Having all the answers, I easily led her through everything she was wondering. But, one last question was stated, making me unsure of how to properly answer it. “What makes BBYO so special?” To be truthful, I had no idea how to reply. How can I easily summarize the impact this organization has on me? Where would I even start? “This might take a while,” I replied, knowing that I wanted to answer her with all of my heart.

“Before I joined BBYO, there was nothing that stuck with me. I had sports and extracurriculars, but I did not have a true connection with anything. This organization was always mentioned by family members and friends, but I had no clue what it actually was. I gave one event a shot and by doing so, I immediately fell in love. After my first event, I began to participate in unique programming. I tried new things I had never thought about doing before. I learned more about what it means to take leadership in my community and speak up for myself and for the Jewish community when necessary. I felt more connected with my Jewish identity than ever before. Most of all, I made lifelong relationships, meeting some of my best friends.”

Here, I am truly able to express myself for who I am. I love being a part of this community, along with attending events that are hosted by my chapter (and the region) have always been the highlight of my week. 

By coming to GMR’s Whirlyball kickoff, I assure you that you will have a great time, and will want to become more involved. A regional event like this one is the perfect opportunity to meet new people, and get a feel for what this organization really is. I promise that if you come, you will have so much fun, and feel the same love for this community that I do.

Hallie Horwich

About the author: Hallie Horwich is a Freshman at New Trier High School and was Bat Mitzvahed at Beth Emet Synagogue in Evanston. Hallie is an active member in BBYO, and has served as her chapter Sh’licha (Jewish Enrichment VP), and Mekasheret (Eighth Grade Recruitment). She enjoys spending her summers playing field hockey and traveling.