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Springboard Blog

Learning and Making a Difference with Tikkun Chicago! By Ellie Agulnek

(Community Spotlight) Permanent link

Tikkun Chicago is not your typical Hebrew High experience.  You can take classes in a variety of topics that best fit your interests and schedule, like Hebrew, Jewish text, teen philanthropy, arts and more.  Last trimester I took a class called Tikkun B’Ir where we volunteered around Chicago.  

I loved volunteering with Tikkun Chicago! I really appreciated that through the class I was able to volunteer at a variety of places that help people in all sorts of ways. We also learned why we were volunteering and what kind of impact we would be making.  My favorite organizations were JUF's Uptown Cafe and Cradles to Crayons - they were different experiences, but through them I provided people in need with food and clothes for their children. I earned community service hours and enjoyed the work I was doing with friends.  

This upcoming trimester there will be classes on Climate Justice, Living in a Universal Society, Cooking and Hebrew. Classes are open to Jewish teens in the Chicago area, so sign up with friends from camp or school! 

Learn more and register for Winter Trimester at

Jew Know What I Mean?: Are You Able to Share Your Beliefs to Other People Without Getting Hate? By Hailey McQueary

(Jewish Journey) Permanent link

Springboard saff love to hear stories about how teens in the community are connecting with their Jewish identities, educating others about the Jewish community and grappling with the complexities of being Jewish today. A few weeks ago Hailey shared her PSA (Public Service Announcement) school  assignment with us on Instagram. She chose to create a PSA about overcoming antisemitism. We asked her if she’d like to share her message with more people and reflect on the experience of creating this project on our blog. 

Stop Antisemitism

What is your topic? I'm excited to be talking about subject that are very important to me, Judaism and that antisemitism is still a problem today. I see antisemitism as a a certain view that people have on Jews. And people show a certain perception of hate towards Jewish people that is directed to Jewish community institutions and religious organizations.


I chose to draw the Star Of David on top and wrote “this is our star” and on the bottom I drew the star that was used to mark Jews with during the holocaust, to separate them from other people. And I wrote “not this!”

Why did you choose this subject? I feel more drawn to this topic as I get older and am seeing antisemitism happen more now. I feel like I needed to speak out and share about this because I feel like people should be more educated on it and I am the only Jewish student in my school. 

I don’t want Jewish people to be only known for being in concentration camps and being hated by Hitler. I want Jewish people to be known for all the traditions and holidays that we celebrate, and all the positive things that we would love to share without getting bashed or hated on for it.

What do you hope other teens learn from your PSA? Antisemitism shouldn’t be happening. It isn’t cool to hate on someone for what they are a part of and what they love. It is frustrating that sometimes famous people make antisemitic comments. I think that everyone should keep the golden rule in mind: “if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say it at all.”

My hope is that everyone finds a place that you are safe and comfortable in with your religious beliefs. I feel safe at my synagogue, Congregation Etz Chaim, and at my Jewish summer camp, OSRUI. They make me feel safe because I can be open about my religion and beliefs with other people that agree with me and make me feel comfortable and loved. Everyone should be able to feel that way.


About the Author: Hailey is an 8th grader. She participates in builders club, teen advisory board, and JYG. This year, Hailey plans to raise awareness about ALS by speaking about it and fundraising. Hailey’s favorite place is OSRUI, her summer camp, and reading books and being with the people she loves makes her happy.

My Jewish Identity: Introducing Simone Redensky, A Springboard Peer Ambassador

 Permanent link

About the prompt: We asked each Peer Ambassador to share with us a pivotal moment in their Jewish journey, what being a Peer Ambassador means to them personally, and what value speaks to them. Stay tuned over the next few months to hear from all of the Peer Ambassadors.

Check out Simone's blog post below as she shares how JCC Camp Chi shaped her Jewish journey. 

Attending Camp Chi, a Jewish camp in Wisconsin, was a pivotal moment in my Jewish journey. It was one of my first exposures to Jewish culture and religion. I did not grow up in a religious family, but we celebrated Shabbat and a few other holidays. We had a lot of Jewish family friends, but they were also not very religious. My mom sent me to Camp Chi because she had gone there herself, and I fell in love with it. Camp Chi was my first real Jewish experience, where I learned prayers, traditions and history. I have been going for 5 years, and plan on being a counselor next summer. I love the community I was so quickly accepted into. I made many friends and learned so much about my own culture.

Simone on PNW

Simone on PNW, a wilderness adventure program that Camp Chi does!

Since then, I have become more involved in the Jewish community. I am part of a Jewish club at school and a member of BBYO. I am so grateful that I went to Camp Chi and that I met so many wonderful people there. It was a very meaningful part of my journey in discovering my Jewish identity, and it led me to become a Springboard Ambassador. Being an ambassador means helping others on that same journey I went through, and hopefully showing them some of the amazing parts of Jewish culture. It means connecting people with programs that they can fall in love with and become a part of. I am looking forward to connecting other teens with programs and people that can make them feel welcomed in the Jewish community. 

Simone Redensky

About the Author: Simone is a current junior at Jones College Prep, where she plays on the varsity lacrosse team. She enjoys reading, shopping and spending time with her friends. She began to discover her Jewish identity when she attended Camp Chi, and has since become more involved with Jewish organizations and programs. 

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