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Adam Blue is the Midwest High School Coordinator for StandWithUs (SWU), an international Israel education organization.

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Adam Lawerence

During the month of January, we are highlighting new youth professionals that are new in their roles. Meet Adam, the Midwest high school coordinator for StandWithUS. 

Adam grew up in the north Chicago suburbs, and graduated from Indiana University with his B.A. in History and Jewish Studies. He is excited to share his passion for Israel with students and the community in his region. 

 His love of Israel started at home, but developed through involvement in USY, at Camp Ramah, and during the Nativ College Leadership Program - Gap Year in Israel, where he volunteered outside Haifa.  Motivated by his experiences, Adam returned to college and instantly got involved with Indiana's pro-Israel community.

 As the President of Hillel at Indiana University, a legislative intern with the Indianapolis Jewish Community Relations Council, a youth advisor in Chicago, or as an Assistant Director of BBYO Passport, Adam has repeatedly exhibited his personal commitment to experiential education, community engagement, and teen leadership development over the past decade. 

 Through StandWithUs, Adam is educating and empowering students to enhance their personal connections to Israel and speak out against antisemitism and extremism.  More than ever, we need our students to ask more questions, engage in complicated discussions, and commit themselves to fact-based education.

 One such opportunity is to join StandWithUs’ Teen Leadership Council (TLC) for students 9th-12th grades. In key cities around the Midwest, SWU is setting up TLC’s to provide students the opportunity to further their Israel knowledge, plan innovative programming with their peers, and ensure that their community is connected to Israel. 

 The four-month long program includes: mentorship in leadership skills and community building, access to StandWithUs speakers and materials, and connection to teens in the region with similar goals and aspirations.

 Whether students are seeking their first leadership position, or are already involved, TLC is a professional leadership experience that will surely enhance their Israel programming capabilities.  In addition, TLC prepares them for the challenges they may face at university and in their community regarding Israel.

Program Requirements:

-Attend a total of four mandatory monthly meetings (January - April) with Adam and the other TLC members (via Google Hangout)

-Attend bi-monthly one-on-one meetings with Adam to receive individual professional mentorship (via Google Hangout or in person)

-Collaborate with other members of the TLC to plan and execute a region-wide teen event focused on Israel education

-Plan a minimum of one Israel event in their community

-Stay in regular contact with the TLC and with Adam 

 Are you a high school student or know a student who is interested in working with StandWithUs and educating about Israel? Reach out to Adam today via . 

 Applications for the spring session of the Teen Leadership Council are currently open, and nominations for the StandWithUs High School Internship  will open on Monday, January 14, 2019. 


One Year Mark

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This past Shabbat marked one year since I completed and was released from my service as an infantry soldier in the Nahal Brigade of the Israel Defense Forces. One year since I turned in my gun, my gear, my uniform, my boots and left everything I had known for the last two years. The transition was marked as I put on a pair of jeans, a normal t-shirt and athletic shoes, clothes I could wear seemingly for the rest of my life.  

No more were the days of going to sleep at 4 pm to wake up at 10 pm and train throughout the night to avoid the dangerous Israeli heat. No more marching kilometer after kilometer, with shooting pains through parts of my body I never knew existed. No more having my biggest worry be, “will the person switching me off of guard duty g-d forbid be late?” Also missing was the sense of camaraderie and purpose that came from being an infantry fighter in the Israel Defense Forces.  

While finishing the army is cause for celebration, it is also a very scary time. For many lone soldiers, including myself, our ultimate life goal was to serve in the Israel Defense Forces. I didn’t have any plans for what would happen after the army. I completed the army, my ultimate life goal, and still had a whole life in front of me. The question of “what’s next” made me anxious and stressed. I avoided thinking about it for as long as possible and I was successful up until the very day I was released. I truly had no idea what the answer to that question was. Yes, the army was the place I where truly turned from a boy to a man, and it wasn’t easy, but after enough time, it became comfortable. I knew my place, I knew my purpose, and I knew my people. When I was released from the army, and cut my army ID in half, all of that disappeared. 


In the last year I have accomplished many things. I traveled through Eastern Europe and India for the first time, I made the decision to leave Israel and build a life in Chicago, I started working full-time for Springboard Chicago, and was accepted to my top choice Masters degree program for the coming year. These milestones have allowed me to take time and reflect on just how different my life is now compared to a year ago. My bus rides to the army base have been replaced by Metra commutes. My smelly, crowded army bunk is now my comfortable room at home.  Army dining has turned into eating whatever I want, whenever I want. I used to go weeks without an electronic device and now I check screens regularly.  Workouts used to be long runs through the desert and now I visit an air-conditioned health club. To many, these are improvements, but for many soldiers, it is a difficult adjustment.  

I take great pride in continuing to serve Israel through the Israel Defense Force Reserves (Miliuim). When I decided to build a life in Chicago, it was important to me to still fulfill my duty as an Israeli citizen, and to continue with the army reserves so that I am ready to do whatever it takes to defend the Jewish homeland. My work through Springboard helps me to continue my goal of serving the Jewish people in any capacity. I look forward to my second year of freedom and my role helping more Jewish teens to find their connection to Judaism. I'm excited to continue sharing my Jewish Journey and hearing about the journeys of others in our community.  

Chicago's Very Own Rock Stars

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Two of Chicago’s own local teen musicians, Yael Bettenhausen, 17, a student at Niles North and Marc Luban, 17, a student at Rochelle Zell Jewish High School, are two of the National Top 12 finalists in Jewish Rock Radio’s Jewish Star North America Talent Search. This is Jewish Rock Radio’s first nationwide competition, designed to identify emerging talent in the Jewish community. Marc and Yael were among dozens of applicants from across North America who submitted videos reflecting their musical talent and passion for impacting the Jewish world.

When asked about the impact of being a Jewish song leader in their communities, the two shared:

Yael Bettenhausen on Guitar

“Being a Jewish song leader is about connecting with other people through the power of harmony and song. When you hear others signing your song and having a good time with your music, Jewish or not, that’s the moment when you know you’ve truly connected and impacted someone else and to me, that is the most meaningful part of about being a Jewish Song leader.” – Yael


“Each carefully crafted masterpiece of Jewish music carries not only the meaning its creator intended, but also brings with it the enormous power of our timeless traditions and teachings, which makes it possible for each and every individual to feel the voice of every song in their soul. Jewish music has impacted my life because it brought me closer to my community and to communities outside of mine and showed me new and incredible ways to connect to my religion and identity in this ever-changing modern age.”- Marc


Right now is your opportunity to help these amazing Jewish Rock Stars move into the final six! From now until Monday, December 17, you can vote here.

6 grand prize winners will be awarded a private mentorship from an internationally recognized Jewish celebrity recording artist, a professional recording studio session, exposure throughout all of North America and a full scholarship to attend the 2019 Song Leader Bootcamp (SLBC) National Conference.

Think you’ve got what it takes to be the next Jewish Rock Star? Join Song Leader Boot Camp from Sunday, February 17, 2019- Tuesday, February 19, 2019 in St. Louis! Teens who participate in the Springboard school break track will receive significant tuition subsidies. Learn more @ Springboard SLBC.