Get to know the recipients of this year’s 18 Under 18 award!
Alexa Turner (she/her/hers) is a senior at Highland Park High School. She's involved in many Jewish communal programs such as Voices: The Chicago Teen Foundation, JCFS Operation Snowball, and Springboard Peer Ambassadors. She's played travel soccer since 2nd grade and for the Highland Park soccer team for the past 2 years. At school, she's been involved in HPTV, her school's announcements club, and DECA, where she'll compete at Internationals in April. Additionally, she was an overnight counselor at Camp Chi last year and plans to be a counselor again this summer, making it her 8th summer at her home away from home. She's also the founder of her own charity, Poshmark For Change, which is dedicated to raising money for those in need and helping save the environment by keeping clothes out of landfills and encouraging second-hand shopping. She has helped spearhead Poshmark For Change's latest campaign towards raising money for Chicago Therapy Collective, a non-profit that focuses on eradicating Trans communities' health disparities. Alexa is passionate about making a difference in her community, from fighting to end fast fashion to advocating for LGBTQIA+ rights and is excited to expand her impact in years to come.
Amelie Suskind Liu (she/her/hers) is a senior at the University of Chicago Laboratory School. She is the Secretary General of her school’s Model UN team. Outside of school, Amelie founded Peer Healing, an evidence-based teen grief group curriculum that is currently being piloted at a multi-state level. Over quarantine, Amelie wrote a children’s book with her Bubbe called Matzo Ball-Wonton Thanksgiving about her Chinese-Jewish identity, which she enjoys reading to kids in schools and synagogues.
Benjamin Kagan is a junior at Francis W. Parker School in Chicago. In February 2021, Benjamin founded the Chicago Vaccine Angels, a group of 50+ adult volunteers working to get vaccine appointments for healthcare professionals, senior citizens, and essential workers. In addition to Benjamin's public health work, he is Founder & president of Jewish Student Connection at his school, president of Investment Club, online editor of the school newspaper, and an active Model UN delegate. Additionally, he is the Vice President of Communications (Mazkir) for the BBYO Great Midwest Region. At Francis W. Parker School, Benjamin plays varsity soccer and baseball. He currently serves on the Illinois Governor’s Commission on Volunteerism and Community Service, the Chicago Mayor's Youth Commission, and is a student representative to the Illinois High School Association.
Benjamin Barrish (he/him/his) is a senior at Rochelle Zell Jewish High School. He is a 3-season athlete in cross country, basketball, and track, and served as captain of the cross-country team. He is the president of Interfaith Youth Core at his school and is on the board of his school’s service club, DEAP. Outside of school, Benjamin participates in Student to Student and teaches at Moriah Congregation Religious school. Benjamin is a cohort 9 Diller alum, and this summer, he will be a counselor at Ramah Wisconsin, which he has attended for 7 years.
Daniel Tothy is a senior at the University of Chicago Lab Schools. For the past two years, he has been a peer advisor for Teen Talk, an online, anonymous platform that supports teens in their moments of need. In his free time, Daniel is the vice president of his school’s Jewish Students Association, a co-founder of the Marine Biology Club, and the captain of his fencing team. He has also been a madrich for four years at Chicago Sinai Congregation. This summer, after ten years as a camper, Daniel is excited to be a counselor at Adirondack Camp in upstate New York where he will teach sailing and fencing.
Esther Loewenthal (she/her/hers) is a junior at Highland Park High School. She is involved with field hockey, dance show, and lacrosse as well as student council and Rotary Interact at her school. She is a madricha at Am Yisrael. This past summer, she went to Israel for three weeks on a program with Beber Camp and hopes to go back to Israel this summer!
Eve Darke is a senior at Whitney Young High School. She is dedicated to serving her community and helping the environment. In 2020, Eve founded a local business called “Sustainable Start”, a community-based composting service that helps people reduce their carbon footprint by composting and taking other small steps towards an eco-friendlier lifestyle. In school, Eve serves as president of the Mock Trial Team, an active member of Best Buddies and is a tutor with Chicago Teen Mentors. Within the Jewish community serves as a madrichim at her temple, Chicago Sinai Congregation, and regularly attends seminars with the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism on social justice matters.
Gabi Josefson (he/him/his) is a senior at Jones College Prep. He serves as co-editor-in-chief of the school newspaper and co-president of his school’s Jewish Student Connection. He is also on the Voices Alumni Board and previously served on the Regional Board for the Great Midwest Region of BBYO. Gabi spent a semester at Alexander Muss High School in Israel and spends his summers at Beber Camp. Outside of school, he plays tennis, follows baseball, and spends time with family and friends!
Hadassah Bernstein is a senior at Ida Crown Jewish Academy. At school, she is co-president of Interact-H.O.P.E (Helping Other People Everywhere) club, a peer leader for Keshet, senior class treasurer, editor-in-chief of the yearbook and newspaper, layout editor of the literary magazine, on the board of Israel Advocacy, a presenter for Student to Student, and a member of Hugo’s Heroes, a first aid and emergency response team. Outside of school, Hadassah plays high school hockey, works as an ice hockey referee, serves on the board of Yachad and Libenu, and is a youth group leader at Congregation Or Torah.
Hannah Dalinka (she/her) is a senior at Glenbrook North High School. She is a vice president of the Glenbrook North Student Association Executive Board and helps to run the Freshman Class Board. She is co-captain of the Speech team, co-president of an extracurricular acapella group, a freshman peer mentor, an inducted thespian, a physical education leader, and an Academic Resource Center tutor. Hannah attends North Shore Congregation Israel (NSCI), where she has been songleading every Sunday morning for the last four years. At NSCI she has also been singing in Selah, the youth choir, since second grade and is now on the Machonik Leadership Team. Hannah has also completed the URJ Songleading Fellowship and the Springboard Peer Ambassador Program. She has volunteered with Shalom Corps, too. Finally, Hannah has found her home at JCC Camp Chi where she was a counselor last summer and has gone for a total of 5 summers. In her free time, she enjoys listening to music, spending time with friends and family, watching the sunrise, and making smoothies. Hannah feels very passionately about growing and strengthening the Jewish Community and is honored to be an 18 Under 18 honoree!
Hersch Linzer is a senior at Ida Crown Jewish Academy where he is involved in several activities. He is the captain of his school’s student first responder team, Hugo’s Heroes, run through Hatzalah, which trains students in life-saving skills including CPR and first aid. He is a presenter for Student to Student, a club that educates non-Jews about Judaism in an effort to reduce antisemitism, and has been on the Chicago Yachad teen board for the past 3 years. He also participates in the Israel Advocacy club at his school, helps 9th graders with their transition into high school through his position as a senior leader, and runs on the cross country team. Last year, Hersch created The Teen Mentoring Project with a group of his peers at the NCSY JUMP leadership conference. This project provides Jewish middle schoolers with a positive high-school Jewish role model who can relate to and help with the challenges that arise as a modern Jewish preteen. Hersch is passionate about giving back to the community and uses this passion to try and fill any gaps that he can find.
Jared Kamin is a junior at Lake Zurich High School where he plays on the Varsity Boys’ Basketball team. He participated in the 2022 JCC Maccabi Games in San Diego, proudly representing Chicago on the 16u Boys Basketball Team, and hopes to compete again in Israel in 2023. An active member of North Suburban Synagogue Beth El in Highland Park, Jared is a religious school madrich (teen aide), volunteers in the preschool camp and for children’s High Holiday services, and participates in the Jewish Teen Project and BEANS USY. Jared spent 6 summers at 6 Points Sports Academy in North Carolina and enjoys being a “buddy” for the Lake Zurich Challenger Baseball program.
Joshua Horwich (he/him/his) is a junior at Highland Park High School where he is on the lacrosse team and a member of the Holocaust Remembrance Committee. He is on the chapter board of Shabak AZA, a chapter he helped launch in 2021. He belongs to BJBE, where he is co-president of Senior Youth Group, a songleader for Junior Choir, and a madrich in the Jewish Learning Center. He is co-president of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Teen Committee. Last year, he was a Diller Teen Fellow. He was also a camper at OSRUI for seven summers.
Katherine McKeag (she/her/hers) is a senior at Highland Park High School. She belongs to North Shore Congregation Israel and teaches there 3 times a week. She also plans Tikkun Olam activities for the kids. She is president of the youth group and programming vice president of NFTY.
Klara Walny is a senior at Glenbrook North High School. When she's not running laps around the school during cross country practice, you might find her writing stories for the school's newspaper or lifeguarding at her local pool. Klara is involved with Chabad of Wilmette and is an AJC Leaders for Tomorrow student. This summer, she will be a counselor at Camp Young Judaea Midwest, where she has been a camper for 7 summers.
Leo Auerbach (he/him/him) is a senior at Francis W. Parker School and attends Chicago Sinai Congregation. He is the regional vice president of programming of BBYO's Great Midwest Region and is the co-head of his school's Jewish Student Connection club. Leo is the captain of his school's varsity tennis team and is also a participant of Scholastic Bowl, Model UN, and Investment Club. During his summers, Leo serves as a camp counselor at North Star Camp for Boys.
Lyla Kelber (she/her) is a senior at New Trier High School. She’s extensively involved in her synagogue, Am Yisrael. She’s been a congregant since she was born, and she’s been a madricha for the past four years. Lyla is a dancer and runs track. She is also a huge gun violence prevention advocate.
Noa Heinrich is a junior at Beacon Academy where she initiated and continues to develop an educational program for Yom Hashoah and is a strong advocate for the importance of Holocaust and antisemitism education. She is a former Diller Teen Fellow and has grown up at OSRUI where she plans to return as a staff member. Noa feels a deep and meaningful connection to Israel which was reinforced during her time in Diller, where she further developed her leadership and advocacy skills. She is heavily involved in school activities where she co-leads a student-run business and is an active member of environmental club. She is also extremely passionate about the ocean and the environment and will be spending part of her summer involved in marine biology research.
Check Out Last Year's Recognition Book!
Springboard is a community initiative created with the support of JUF/Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Chicago, the Jim Joseph Foundation and a consortium of local funders.