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Springboard Blog

Meet Our Lewis Summer Intern, Alex!

(Program Experiences, Community Spotlight) Permanent link

Alex Gold Portrait

I am so excited to be joining the Springboard team as the Lewis Summer Intern for JUF teens and Springboard this summer! 

I am from Glencoe and have always belonged to Am Shalom where I have been able to grow my Jewish belonging and network beyond friendships within my hometown. I worked at my synagogue as a madricha for three years during high school. I was able to work with preschool aged children who were just starting their Jewish journey, all the way through middle schoolers, who were gearing up for their b’nai mitzvahs.  

I spent 8 summers at Tripp Lake camp in Maine There, I was also able to connect with young Jewish girls from all over the country. Connecting with these girls from such a young age and continuously growing relationships every summer, allowed me to make lifelong friends who I still have today. 

Alex Gold Photo

I am a rising senior at Franklin and Marshall College studying sociology and anthropology. I intend to graduate this winter and go off to graduate school where I will be able to get my degree in Social Work. I hope to work with teens and young adults who are navigating middle school and high school. Listening to other people’s life experiences, and giving advice, has been a passion of mine since I was young, and I cannot wait to start that chapter of my life! 

From Player to Coach by Jodi Marver

(Program Experiences, Community Spotlight) Permanent link

Looking back on my high school years, the one big event that impacted my life in such a positive manner was participating in the Maccabi games. Back in 2008, I remember one of my high school basketball teammates telling me to join and I am so glad I did! My experience with Maccabi gave me the opportunity to play basketball at a high level, travel to a new city, participate in fun events at night, but most importantly, make lifelong friends. It was such a highlight of my summer to do Maccabi and really helped shape me into the person I am today. After graduating college, I knew going back to Maccabi as a coach was something I really wanted to do because it was a program that had such a great impact on my life. Now, I get to see the huge smile on these girls' faces as they get to participate in all the amazing events that Maccabi brings to kids. More so, I get to coach alongside my best friend Lena Munzer who I met at the Maccabi games back in 2008. Maccabi is bigger than sports, it’s about finding a connection to other kids who are similar to you from all over the world. This is a great way for young adults to feel a part of their Jewish background while also gaining new experiences. My memories from Maccabi as a player and coach have been some of the best memories of my life!

Jodi Marver

Jodi Marver is Chicago’s 16U Maccabi Girls Basketball Coach. Outside of Maccabi she is the Head Varsity Girls Basketball Coach and Physical Education Teacher at Willows Academy. Jodi went to Knox College where she studied Elementary Education and was an elementary school teacher for 4 years before transitioning to secondary education. Jodi is thrilled to continue to give back to the Maccabi community that has given so much to her when she was younger.

 

March Madness by Alex Newman

(Community Spotlight) Permanent link

Whether I’ve been the one competing or watching from my couch, sports have always been a huge part of my life. The first sport I played was soccer when I was 3. After that it was t-ball, then baseball, then basketball, then flag football, and now Ultimate Frisbee and Track and Field. I started playing Ultimate Frisbee for Walter Payton when I was in 8th grade, switching to Lane’s team once I became a Lane student, and I’ve heard all of the jokes. I’ll be the first to admit that it’s an incredibly niche sport, but I still love it. I’ve also been on the Girls’ Track and Field team for two years, which has been just as awesome of an experience. When Covid winds down, the thing I’m most excited for is definitely going back to practices, meets, tournaments, and just seeing my teammates again.  

I also love watching sports just as much as playing them. I love Chicago teams, especially the Bears, and I play fantasy football and hockey with my friends. The one area of sports that I’ve never fully jumped into was college basketball, until now. Since we’ve started working on this bracket tournament I’ve definitely been doing my research and, while I can’t make any bold predictions right now, I’m certainly rooting for Illinois. As I’m writing this, they have the No. 2 seed but, after their wins against Michigan last week and Ohio State as their last regular season game, the No. 1 spot is definitely in view. Plus, a lot of my friends and old teammates go to Illinois, so I’m emotionally invested as well. 

Alex Newman is a Junior at Lane Tech High School where she’s on the Track and Field team, is the co-president and captain of the Ultimate Frisbee team, and a member of the Omega program. Outside of school, Alex is the secretary of the Piece by Peace organization, a youth outreach program run but students. Alex’s work with these programs has been rooted in her Jewish values, specifically that of community.



#MarchMadness with Hannah Goldwin

(Community Spotlight) Permanent link

I am a highly superstitious person for no reason at all. No tangible wish I’ve made on an eyelash has come fantastically true and changed the course of my life. Running to the nearest wall to knock on wood or not doing so has not altered my entire life- that I know of. Yet each year as I submit my March Madness bracket in a variety of pools I will read each potential match-up and winner to myself out loud and then kiss my fingers and press submit. Unlike my other superstitions, I can give you the exact root of this tradition. 

In middle school, I was given the wonderfully transformative opportunity to submit a bracket in the faculty competition. I was up against basketball fanatic security guards, maintenance staff, and my own teachers. While the bracket was submitted under my mother’s name, it was my baby. I did hours of research just like expecting parents. Statistics rolled off my tongue after watching as many hours of ESPN as my homework schedule allowed. Yet when it came down to the deadline, I felt unprepared. I had sporadically watched March Madness over the years and the thought of a 16 seed beating a 1 seed was completely impossible in my mind (Spoiler: it happened). I chose to speak my predictions into existence and read the bracket out loud to myself. I then decided there was no time like the present, kissed my hand, and clicked submit. After around 3 weeks of stress and constant distraction by that day’s games, it came down to the championship. I wasn’t ready for the roller coaster to be over. Each day as many of us sat in class secretly watching scores while writing essays and doing work, I felt a sense of community. You could see slight flashes of disappointment across the room when the score updated in favor of the huge underdog and the tapping of sneakers against the tiled floor when games came down to the wire. There was always a bracket discussion going on in the hallway whether it be an argument or statistical analysis. But the end was looming and I was sitting just off the podium in 5th place- out of 80 brackets if I may add. Fast forward a stressful three hours where I was brought to the verge of tears multiple times and my predicted winner came out victorious, The UNC Tarheels. The point values of our competition were perplexing to me so I was completely baffled as to how this would affect the final standings. I fell asleep that night satisfied. And the next morning I raced to check my email as if it was Instagram. Though it may sound cliché, my heart was thumping in my chest so hard my entire body shook with each beat. I opened the PDF at the top of my inbox and found my name highlighted in yellow with 3rd place next to it. My heart swelled with pride. The sense of accomplishment and fulfillment I felt in that moment has been almost unmatched since. I collected my prize money later that day and carried the envelope home as if it was my most expensive possession- which it may have been. My read-aloud and kissing had worked. It hasn’t worked every time since but I’m surely not willing to give it up yet. 

March Madness

Hannah Goldwin is a Junior at Walter Payton College Prep and plays tennis as well as dabbles in ultimate frisbee and basketball. She leads clubs devoted to Alzheimer’s awareness, Jewish Community, and the discussion of a top notch educational show, the Bachelor. She watches football religiously and recently graduated from the Diller Teen Fellowship.

My Experience at Genesis - One of the Best Summers of my Life

(Community Spotlight) Permanent link

On July 2nd, 2019, I was getting ready to leave for the airport, and I was TERRIFIED. In just a few hours, I would be in Boston, where I would be living with a bunch of kids whom I had never met. About a month later, I was crying because I never wanted to leave.

The Genesis program is truly a unique and amazing experience. I met people from all around the world! Everyone had a different Jewish background and story, and I made friends with some amazing people. The best part? I got to live with all of them! Staying on a college campus was such a new and fun experience for me. I got to live with a roommate, eat at the dining hall with my friends, and chill out around campus, just like a college student! We weren’t on campus the whole time, though. On the fourth of July, we went to see fireworks, and one time, we got to spend the day shopping around Boston. Going on these trips with all of my friends was so much fun (even the Walgreens trips!). One of the best parts of Genesis was the Shabbat ceremonies, because being together and celebrating as a community was so special.

I can’t talk about Genesis without talking about the classes. Genesis gave me the opportunity to take courses that I don’t think I ever would have taken otherwise. The first course that I took was Culinary Arts and Anthropology, with cookbook author Jeffery Yoskovitz. Even though I had little to no cooking experience, I had so much fun. Over the course of two weeks, we learned about all different kinds of Jewish foods and their history. We had discussions about what makes Jewish food Jewish and how these foods play a role in Jewish culture. Getting to have these discussions with people from different Jewish backgrounds was so interesting. Of course, we got to cook a lot of these foods too! Being able to sit down and talk about food in a school-like environment and then immediately go into the kitchen to cook made it such an immersive learning experience. We made everything from sufganiyot to cheese (from scratch). We even had a contest one day to see who could make the best dish using only the leftover food from the kitchen. Making a whole dish all by myself was definitely out of my comfort zone, but this ended up being one of my favorite days. 

During the last two weeks, I took the Global Religions course, which was both incredibly interesting and meaningful. Coming from 10 years of Jewish day school, I knew tons about Judaism, but I never learned that much about other religions, so I was looking forward to this class. Each day, we had engaging discussions and lectures about a new religion. It felt just like taking a religious studies class at a college! The field trips really made this course special. Even though the course was only two weeks long, we visited so many places of worship, like an AME Church and a Hindu temple. We even participated in a Buddhist meditation! These trips gave us a first-hand experience of different religious services and allowed us to talk to people who practice these religions. One of my favorite parts of these trips was looking at the architecture. Each place we visited was beautiful and unique. I loved looking at all of the details around and inside the buildings and learning about their meanings and history. To finish the course, each of us created a family tree with explanations of our Jewish origins, giving us a better understanding of how diverse Judaism truly is.

If you are considering applying for Genesis, I highly encourage you to do so. I could not recommend the program enough, and it was one of the best summers of my life.

Yanira is a junior and a full IB student at Beacon Academy. She attended Brandeis’ Genesis program in 2019, graduated from Diller Teen Fellows last year, and is currently a part of RTI (research training internship). She frequently reads Torah at her synagogue and is currently continuing to learn Hebrew outside of school.

Introducing this years' Jewish Teen Alliance of Chicago

(Community Spotlight) Permanent link

Springboard is pleased to introduce this years’ Jewish Teen Alliance of Chicago (JTAC). This group of incredible teens are connected to numerous organizations within our community. They represent the voices and missions of Youth Groups, cohort programs, volunteer opportunities and so much more. We would like to take a moment to share with you a little more about each of these talented teens: Abby Cyrluk, Blake Finkel, Ella Rubenstein, Ilana Friedel, Kathrine McKeag, Kaylee Zavduk, Klara Walny, Maya Comrov, Noah Shapiro, Ronit Lunken, and Sophia Rose. They have all grown and been shaped by their Jewish communities in different ways. We asked each member of JTAC to share a personal mission statement, to provide a window for us, into their lives, values, and what is most important to them.

logos for teens

Klara Walny:  

Hi, my name is Klara Walny. My Jewish youth groups have shaped who I am today and are helping me grow for tomorrow. I simply would not be who I am without Young Judaea, CTeen, Voices, and JTAC. All these groups have taught me something very important, that I should be proud to be Jewish. 

Young Judaea taught me about pluralism and how to accept everyone no matter their beliefs or backgrounds. While CTeen taught me there are millions of Jewish teens around the world, that I should value my Judaism, and I should be proud to be a Jew. Voices on the other hand, taught me about philanthropy, the importance of giving tzedakah and not just blindly giving money without research and consideration. Last, but not least, JTAC taught me that there are a ton of Jewish teens in the Chicagoland area and that there is a Jewish youth group for your interests and/or beliefs. 

Personally, all these youth groups have also helped shape my friends. My closest friends come from time at Camp Young Judaea Midwest and from my fellow board members in CTeen. They have made me laugh, always keep me on my toes, and are always there for me when I have a bad day. I could not ask for better friends, they are so smart and have good hearts. I try to be there for them as much as they are for me. 

Abby Cyrluk: 

My name is Abby Cyrluk and I want to share with you the things that have made me into the person I am today. To start, I was lucky to attend Bernard Zell Anshe Emet Day School for 10 years of my life. Bernard Zell is a Jewish day school where I received all my Jewish education. The Jewish community at Bernard Zell is so strong. No matter what I was doing, there was always a teacher or classmate there to help me and support me. Bernard Zell shaped me into the young adult I am today, not just in the Jewish community, but in general. Bernard Zell made me understand the importance of having a strong community and that is something I will carry with me through life. 

The second thing that has shaped me into who I am is Chippewa Ranch Camp. I have been going to sleepaway camp at Chippewa since I was 8 years old. During my time at camp, I have gained friendships that will last a lifetime. At camp, I can feel how I'm a part of a community that is bigger than me. Camp is like my second home and I will forever be thankful for all the experiences and friendship camp has given me.   

Throughout my life, I want to be able to create and become a part of more strong communities like Bernard Zell and Chippewa Ranch Camp. I want to be able to help communities and generally make each community I become a part of a better place. I have learned being a part of communities and being able to learn and gain help from others in those communities, is ultimately the best way to grow as a person.  

Ella Rubenstein: 

My name is Ella Rubinstein. I enjoy spending time with my friends and family, baking, pursuing social justice, helping my community, engaging in meaningful and thoughtful conversations, and connecting with my Jewish heritage. I love BBYO because it has allowed me to discover my inner leadership skills to lead on what I am passionate about.  

I hope to always be seeking justice and helping others in my life. My parents instilled wonderful values in me, and one being that I really care about doing what is right no matter what. Doing the right thing isn’t always the easiest path, but it is the way to be a more honest person. 

I aspire to lead those around me with enthusiasm, as well as a desire to be a positive person in society. I feel I am a hard worker with a friendly personality which enables me to make change while also exhibiting a kind spirit.  

Blake Finkel: 

My name is Blake Finkel and I want to share with you a little bit about who I am. Camp Chi has made me the person I am today, teaching me the importance of community, respect, and kindness. I believe that the connections I have made through camp have supported me throughout high school and will continue to support me throughout life.  
 
As an individual, I strive to contribute to the communities I am a part of. I believe the relationships we create with others helps to build a better and more compassionate community. By building these relationships, we can turn to each other for help and support. The Jewish community is one of the most compassionate and supportive communities and has helped me to grow as an individual and as a leader. From helping at my synagogue to serving on regional board for BBYO, I believe that contributing to these communities creates stronger bonds and a larger impact on others. To strengthen my school community, I have participated in peer tutoring and hold a leadership role in the Freshman Mentor Program, which helps welcome the new class into our school each year.  

I hope to continue to value the importance of community throughout life. Sustaining and emphasizing the values of kindness and respect are crucial in preventing hate and hostility. I believe it is our duty to lead future generations on the right path, building and preserving a strong community for them to inherit.  

Kathrine McKeag: 

I'm Katherine McKeag and I'd love for you to get to know me a bit better. I participate in a wide variety of Jewish organizations; primarily NFTY. NFTY programming gives me an opportunity to engage in Judaism with my peers. It also gives me opportunities to meet diverse individuals from around the country and grow as a person.  

Being involved in NFTY has allowed me to continue building on my core value; kindness. I believe that everyone deserves to be welcomed into any environment with as much support as possible. NFTY has provided me an outlet to use my philosophy. At every in-person event, I would constantly come back with dozens of new contacts, who I could then encourage to come back to NFTY.  

NFTY not only provides a space for me to meet others but gives me an opportunity to work on myself. Throughout my life I have struggled with mental health, NFTY gave me a safe place to grow and gain support from. I have always enjoyed close-knit, loving communities and that is exactly what NFTY, and most other Jewish youth engagement programs are. 

Maya Comrov: 

Hi, my name is Maya Comrov. I am 18 years old and live in Buffalo Grove, IL. I am a senior at Rochelle Zell Jewish High School in Deerfield. In my free time, I like to run with my dad and take walks with my family. I am actively involved with my school through various clubs, musical theater, choir, and sports. Besides JTAC, a few other organizations I am involved in are NCSY, Camp Gan Israel of Northbrook, Voices, Student to Student, and Chai Lifeline. I have also been a counselor for Camp Gan Israel of Northbrook for years.  

I wake up every day grateful to be alive and inherently committed to enhancing the lives of others through kindness. I love meeting new people, making them smile, and forming meaningful relationships. Through the organizations I have been involved in, I have developed leadership skills, flexibility, and appreciation for community. Serving as a board member on the North Shore chapter of NCSY, I have been given opportunities to brainstorm events for teens from 6th to 12th graders. With my work on Voices, I have learned how to fundraise and donate thoughtfully. Student to Student, Chai Lifeline, and Camp Gan Israel have allowed me to gain a better understanding of who I am and what I’m capable of achieving while also doing chesed. These organizations have allowed me to push myself into becoming more sensitive, empathic, and proactive. 

Ronit Lunken: 

Hi my name is Ronit Lunken and I would like to tell you all about me. I have always had a strong connection to my Judaism. Although I live far from major Jewish populations, I have learned so much from my Judaism, especially from Young Judaea (YJ). Young Judaea teaches me so much about inclusion, tikkun olam, and leadership. I have been involved in the YJ youth movement for almost ten years, including the past two years which I have been on the board. In this position I have learned how to be a better leader by making connections, listening, helping others, and being compassionate. I have utilized these values many times, and they have helped me grow as a leader. I make an effort to reach out to every individual and make sure everyone feels heard and valued.  

Tikkun olam, repairing the world, is one of my most valued Jewish teachings. It has greatly shaped who I am as a person, and it affects how I live and make decisions. I volunteer every week at my local animal shelter and in my Jewish community whenever I get the chance. I strive to one day be zero-waste. I am constantly making decisions to better myself and minimize my impact on the environment. I know that I have an impact on the world, though volunteering and leadership, and I want to make a positive one. 



Meet Naomi: Springboard’s New Teen Engagement Manager

(Community Spotlight) Permanent link

I am so excited to be joining the Springboard team as the Teen Engagement Manager. Ever since I was an intern at the JUF in college (shout out to the Lewis Summer Internship program), I have dreamed of working at the JUF and supporting the Chicago Jewish community.

I am originally from Oak Park, a suburb just west of Chicago. My home synagogue, Oak Park Temple, was always a special place for me and the space that felt like my second home. Before high school, my entire Jewish world was based in Oak Park. However, the summer before my freshman year, my entire life changed when I attended my first NFTY event.

Naomi at NFTY

The event was a five-day retreat called Summer Kallah. In those five days, my Jewish identity and interest in being a leader in my community was suddenly roused. After that one retreat, I began to connect with Jewish teens from all around the Chicago area and the country. I went on to serve as the NFTY Chicago Programming Vice President and President. I even met my husband in NFTY and majored in Jewish studies at the University of Wisconsin-Madison because of the impact NFTY had on my life.

I am so thankful that my parents signed me up for my first NFTY event. Some days I look back at my life and think about how different things would have been if I had not gotten involved with NFTY and my temple youth group.

That is why I am thrilled to be on the Springboard team. The opportunity to connect Jewish teens with programs and opportunities that have the potential to change their entire lives and inspire them to explore the Jewish identity is what drives me each day to do this important work. Each person that Springboard helps to connect with a meaningful Jewish experience is incredible. Whether it’s through TOV Teens, USY, JSC, NFTY, BBYO, Keshet, summer camp, or the dozens of other Jewish opportunities for teens in the Chicago area, I am excited to help each teen find the program or multiple programs that will leave a positive and lasting impact on their life.

When I’m not connecting Jewish teens with programs, you can usually find me baking bread, playing with my new puppy, or trying to find the tastiest taco in Chicago. I recently moved from Chicago to Evanston and love exploring the beautiful parks nearby.

Naomi Looper

Before working at Springboard, I was OSRUI Assistant Director and NFTY Chicago Regional Director. Prior to that, I worked at Temple Jeremiah in Northfield as the Youth and Family Engagement Director. I attended the University of Wisconsin-Madison (go Badgers!) and earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Jewish Studies and International Studies. While in college, I worked as the youth director at Temple Beth El in Madison, WI and served as a student representative on the UW Hillel board. I am currently pursuing my Masters in Jewish Professional Studies from Spertus Institute for Jewish Learning and Leadership.

Meet Mady Frischer: NSCI Youth Engagement Coordinator

(Community Spotlight) Permanent link

Mady Frischer

(To the tune of Sk8r Boi by Avril Lavigne)


(VERSE 1)

I was a girl

In the North Shore

Can I make it any more obvious?

I did USY

Went to O-S-R-U-I

What else could I try?

Did theater too

Got into AU

Went to school in DC for a year or two

Until study abroad

In Jerusalem

Took my career goals and totally changed them...

 

(CHORUS)

I was an IR Major

That’s what my job plans were

Then I found out I liked Jewish jobs

I had some internships

I learned a lot of tricks

At AJC, JNF, The Embassy of Israel and Kahal

 

(BRIDGE)

Graduation was approaching

My future plans were encroaching

I applied for a CLASP position

Working at NSCI was a smooth transition

Everyday I work with teens

Making the Jewish programs of their dreams

I enjoy work everyday

And that’s all I want to say!


(CHORUS)

I was an IR Major

That’s what my job plans were

Then I found out I liked Jewish jobs

I had some internships

I learned a lot of tricks

Now I work full time at NSCI!

Ta’am (Taste of) Yisrael or Ta’am Lily?

(Community Spotlight) Permanent link

National Institute of Mental Health

Shalom everyone, my name is Lily Booker and here’s a little Ta’am or ‘taste’ of who I am!  

I was born and raised in Deerfield, IL and spent many summers up at OSRUI. I was a camper for 6 summers and then spent an additional 6 summers on staff as a madricha (מדרחה) or counselor. I was even the unit head for Moshavah (מושבה), the outdoor, camping unit.  

Growing up, when I wasn’t at camp, I spent my time as a competitive swimmer. My favorite stroke was backstroke and I particularly loved the 200-yard freestyle relay. While I can’t swim as fast as I was when I was younger, I still love to get back in the pool when I can. I attended Boston University where I graduated with a degree in International Relations, with a focus on the Middle East and security. I recently got a five-month-old Maltese, named Bear, the cutest, smallest and mushiest thing of all time. I live in Lakeview and love spending time reading, walking Bear and hanging out with friends and family. 

I love all things outdoors, food and traveling. Which is why I love my job working as Community Engagement Associate for JUF Ta’am Yisrael, or Taste of Israel! JUF Ta’am Yisrael is the 8th grade trip to Israel, where teens get the opportunity to experience Israel for a week and get a taste of its people, history and culture. I’ve been to over 20 different countries and plan to visit many more in the future. My favorite (of course) is ISRAEL! Hence why I love my job helping teens explore Israel.  

Interested in learning more? Feel free to follow us on Instagram @juftaamyisrael or go to our website  http://www.taamyisrael.org


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