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Posts tagged ‘Teens’

Teen Foundation Alumni Stay Connected in College

By Stephanie Levine, North Peninsula Jewish Teen Foundation Alumna

Last week, I attended an alumni panel where eight alumni members of the North Peninsula Jewish Teen Foundation – myself included – participated in a lively meeting with the current Leadership Council (LC) of the Jewish Teen Foundations (JTF). The LC is composed of a select group of JTF board members and is charged with mentoring new board members and leading board meetings. All of the alumni had been through the program before, so we convened to offer advice to the current board to guide them through their year as LC members. We also went to talk to them about how to continue to be active in the Jewish community even after their time on the board has concluded. Read more

Purim Fun for Everyone

Purim is just around the corner and there is no shortage of community events for any age group.  Shake your grogger at one or more of these fun celebrations:

Children, Teens, and Families

Purim Shabbat Celebration: Friday, February 22 at JCCSF
Purim Party at Ashkenaz: Saturday, February 23 at Ashkenaz (Berkeley)
Sensory Friendly Purim Carnival: Sunday, February 24 at Peninsula Temple Beth El
Purim Palooza: Sunday, February 24 at Osher Marin JCC
GIANTS-themed Purim Party: Sunday, February 24 at Grattan Elementary School (San Francisco)

Young Adults

Purim Party, Megillah 3.0 with Killing My Lobster: Saturday, February 23 at Intersection for the Arts (San Francisco)
2013 Peatot Purim Party: Saturday, February 23 at Club Fox (Redwood City)

For information on more upcoming community events, check out the JCF online community calendar.

Instilling Teens with the Skills Needed for Life-Long Activism and Philanthropy

An optimist and an activist

“If 22 Jewish teens can help at-risk youth on the streets of Tel Aviv, anything is possible.” – Ari Goldstein, JTF board member

I try to keep myself busy.  I run track & field. I’m a leader of my school’s Jew Crew, Model United Nations team, and Eco-Council.  I am also passionate about photography and love the outdoors. I first heard about the Jewish Teen Foundations at a program fair at my synagogue, and was immediately interested because it was a way for me to make a difference in my community. The more I read about it, the more interested I became, and so I decided to apply

JTF is a group of teens that raise money to work towards solving a certain issue in the world. We choose a cause – any problem that needs solving – and spend months writing letters and making phone calls to raise money. Then we review grant proposals and choose five or six great nonprofits to receive grants.

By learning about the issues that face us and the groups working to solve them, I see the world through the lens of an activist and an optimist. If 22 Jewish teens in San Francisco can help at-risk youth on the streets of Tel Aviv, anything is possible.

What I have been most surprised by is how many people are willing to support a worthy cause. It gives me hope that so many people, even in these economic conditions, want to help in any way they can.

Consensus, leadership, and outreach are some important life skills I will definitely take away from the Jewish Teen Foundation and will be able to apply in college and beyond. I know I will look back on this experience with pride, and view it as a reminder that a small group of dedicated people really can change the world!

Realizing I could make a difference

“Often adults will overlook your potential and might not always take you seriously. However, throughout this process, we have met with dozens of adults from various nonprofits who have taken us very seriously – and it feels good!” – Hallie Goldstein, JTF board member

I first heard about the JTF at my synagogue’s teen involvement fair. I remember hearing about the program, and knowing that it was something I could definitely envision myself being a part of.

This experience has taught me that, even as an individual in a world of close to seven billion, I can make a difference. From the time I was little, I have been taught that, but never really believed it until I became a part of JTF. I realized that it is totally possible to make an impact on the world, and as an active member of the Jewish community, I feel it is an obligation to continue this philanthropic work in any and every way possible.

The most interesting thing I discovered by participating is that adults will take you more seriously in the nonprofit world than I had previously expected. Often adults will overlook your potential and might not always take you seriously. However, throughout this process, we have met with dozens of adults from various nonprofits who have taken us very seriously – and it feels good!

I plan to use the knowledge I gained involving nonprofits, budgets, overhead, impact, and reliability throughout my life. I plan to be someone who stays involved and connected in my community and in the greater Jewish community as well, whether it is monetarily or through service. Despite feeling very satisfied about my fundraising, I am still a firm believer in practicing tikkun olam through service as well.

See the entire impact report and learn more about the Jewish Teen Foundations.

Jewish Teen Foundations Instill Lifelong Activism and Philanthropy

“Teens step up when they are entrusted with responsibility.”

by Rachel Levenson, JTF Alumnus

I do not know even where to begin or how to express the importance of the Jewish Teen Foundations on my life. Starting with the JTF board from 8th grade onwards, this experience has been one of, if not the most important thing in my life for helping me find my personal interest and think critically.

The Teen Foundations provided me a place to interact with adults as peers, and I owe a lot of my personal growth to the program. It made me step back and think about what my role – as a Jew and as a global citizen – was and is in the larger worldwide community. I had to think about ways to integrate my Jewish values into projects that are bigger than just the Jewish community.

The Teen Foundations helped me find what I am passionate about. This year, I am starting a job in Malawi where I will be running an evaluation of a project that reduced the barriers to accessing savings accounts. I could not be more excited to be part of an organization that is working to try to measure effectiveness. There is no doubt in my mind that I would not be where I am today without the Teen Foundation.


Rachel focused her university studies on international development in Africa. She conducted research over the course of 4 months in Uganda which ultimately led to her thesis. She participated in American Jewish World Service learning in Nicaragua and Uganda, and studied in Senegal where she perfected her French.  Rachel spent a year at Oxford studying international development. Today, Rachel is a Wesleyan University graduate, who has opened a  donor advised fund at the Jewish Community Federation and Endowment Fund and has pledged to give at least 10% of her income to charities until her retirement.

You can learn more about the Jewish Teen Foundations on their website. Applications for the 2012-2013 boards will open on August 22.

Notes on Parental Sacrifices

By Hillel Zand, South Peninsula Jewish Teen Foundation Board Member
This post originally appeared on Hillel’s blog, American Jewish Teen.

As a board member of the South Peninsula Jewish Teen Foundation, I am currently at the halfway point in a yearlong process to make a difference. Sounds tough, right? The SPJTF creates a mission statement at the beginning of the year, researches nonprofits that match the mission statement, fundraise, and finally allocate money to deserving organizations at the end of the year. This past Sunday, we took a little field trip to one of Shelter Network’s locations, First Step for Families, which assists homeless families on getting back on their feet by providing a safe shelter for parents and their children, as well as vocational services and therapy.

It wasn’t my first time volunteering for Shelter Network, but this time was, by far, the most moving. After we had served dinner to residents and played with some of the kids, a couple of families came and shared their stories with our board, but one family’s story stuck with me the most.

South Peninsula Jewish Teen Foundation Board Members pictured from left to right: Jaime Korman, Hillel Zand, Daniel Kahan, and Aliza Cohen

A middle-aged single mom with three kids who had gone through a rough divorce with a drug-addicted husband and was forced to choose between medical attention for her slipped disk or shelter for herself and her kids. When one of our board members asked what she would change or improve about the shelter, she replied with the humblest thing one could say. She said, “Absolutely nothing. Shelter Network has changed my life so much for the better and I couldn’t ask for anything more from the staff that go out of their way to help me and my kids.” I was shocked when I heard that, because honestly, I was expecting complaints about the food or maybe the fact that she had to share a floor with 11 other families, but no. The fact that she was totally content with her life at that moment was something that I tremendously applaud. It donned on me during that moment that what she did for her kids was maybe not the easiest choice, but it ended up being the right choice. Her 12-year-old daughter nearly brought me to tears as she herself was sobbing while expressing gratitude for everything that the shelter had provided for her. Battling her tears, she said, “I’ve been through a lot in my life, and the therapy that they’ve provided me here has helped… so much.” And she, too, reinforced what her mother said: going to Shelter Network was maybe a harder choice than her family choice being split up by staying with relatives, but it was ultimately the best thing that ever happened to them, as it kept them together as one family.

“I’m trying to show appreciation towards my parents more than I have before for the sacrifices they make each and every day for me and my brothers.”

Those 4 hours at Shelter Network, especially those 20 minutes talking with Shelter Network families, really opened my eyes to the sacrifices parents make every single day. Everything parents do, I learned, is done with their children in mind, and that is something I could not respect enough. That night, I returned home thinking, “Sorry Imma (Mom), sorry Abba (Dad) for doubting what you say and do, but you know what, you were probably right.” It’s tough at my age to realize that and admit defeat to those that brought you into this world, but now, I’m trying to show appreciation towards my parents more than I have before for the sacrifices they make each and every day for me and my brothers.

LEARN MORE: See how Jewish Teen Foundation board members are learning about philanthropy, social action, and helping change the world.

Teen volunteers are fighting poverty

Picture only rubble where your house once stood, before it was wrecked by an earthquake. Imagine showing up to the first day of school, excited about one of your new classes but unable to take notes because your family couldn’t afford school supplies. POVERTY has a devastating impact, and teens are on the forefront of working to secure a sustainable future for peers in their own communities and around the world.

If you know any exceptional Jewish teen volunteers in California who are working to solve social problems like poverty, nominate them to win $36,000 that will change their lives and help them expand their work.

2011 Recipient Daniel Sobajian distributing school supplies

2011 Recipient Daniel Sobajian distributing school supplies

Daniel Sobajian (pictured above) won a 2011 Tikkun Olam Award for his school supply project. Upon transferring to public school, Daniel learned that a shocking number of his classmates lived below the poverty line and were unable to afford essential school supplies. He was moved to support his peers and ensure a good education was within their reach. Daniel has held over 20 supply drives all over Los Angeles and delivered the materials to over 1,000 students.

Ensuring equal opportunities for their peers is important to teens, and almost one in five of the Diller Teen Tikkun Olam Award nominees last year worked on projects combating poverty. Other outstanding teens recognized with a nomination last year organized projects such as raising money to support Haitian school children with supplies after the devastating 2010 earthquake, developing youth chapters of established organizations to engage other teens in fighting poverty, and raising funds to enable regular donations to a local food pantry.

Nominations are now open for the 2012 Diller Teen Tikkun Olam Awards. We are calling on you to help us celebrate the power of teens to change the world. Nominations may be submitted through January 6, 2012.

AWARD ELIGIBILITY: The award is open to Jewish teens who are residents of California and are ages 13-19 at the time of nomination. Teens’ projects can help either the Jewish community or the general community, so long as they have not been remunerated for their services. Teens may be nominated by any community member who knows the value of their project—EXCEPT family members—or may also nominate themselves. For more information visit our website or contact the Project Coordinator for the Diller Teen Tikkun Olam Awards, Rachel Bloom, at (415) 512-6437 or

Diller Teen Fellows check in from Israel

Baltimore Diller Teen Fellows at Mt. Bental in the Golan Heights Shortly After Arriving in Israel

Diller Teen Fellows cohorts from six North American partner communities have  arrived in Israel for their Israel Summer Seminar. Over the three weeks of the Seminar, the fellows will travel in Israel, participate in a 5-day Diller International Teen Leadership Congress (a meeting of Diller participants from all communities), and experience a week of community service and home hospitality by the families of Israeli Diller Teen Fellows.

The Israel Summer Seminar was recently featured in the Jerusalem Post, the New Jersey Jewish News, and Arutz Sheva.

The cohorts will be blogging throughout their time in Israel. We’ll be updating this post to highlight the best blogs of the summer, so check back often!

Highlights from Ryan Berg and Noah Sakin
Ryan Berg and Noah Sakin, July 14, 2011
Update from Alex Kadish
Alex Kadish, July 26, 2011

Los Angeles
We’re So Excited!
Max Davis, June 21, 2011
The Beginning of a New Experience
Shoshana Hirsch (Coordinator), July 21, 2011
Israeli Culture!?
Racheli Schuraytz, August 1, 2011

MetroWest New Jersey
Day 1
Ben Stern, July 12, 2011
Forget Jet Lag… Hey!! We’re in ISRAEL!
Adam Friedman, July 13, 2011
Day 4: Home Is Where Your Heart Is
Arielle Kaden, July 16, 2011
Day 9 :Rak Po (Only Here)
Carmelle Bargad, July 21, 2011
Day 11: Why I am thankful
Molly Dickman, July 23, 2011
It’s Almost Over…
Ari Bernstein, July 31, 2011
The Closing Speech – Ari and Mor
Ari Bernstein and Mor Filo, August 2, 2011
The Final Post
Yael Shapiro, August 3, 2011

Our Pre-Israel Summer Seminar Meeting
Isaac Ballas, June 21, 2011
Our First FULL day of the ISS!
Alexa Burak and Lara Hubermann, July 13, 2011
Jerusalem, Here I Am… Jerusalem… Je T’aime!
Jackie Abramowicz, July 14, 2011
Home Hospitality Week is off to a great start!
July 27, 2011

Masada Camp
Eli Gelernter, July 18, 2011
Reflections on the Diller International Congress
Lizzie Shackney and Alex Josowitz, July 24, 2011
Learning About the Israel-Arab Conflict
Hannah Busis and Felicia Tissenbaum, July 25, 2011
Interacting with the I.D.F
July 26, 2011

San Francisco
The Old-New City: Tel Aviv
Sam Maller and Ilana Crankshaw, July 13, 2011
Moving on Up to Jerusalem
Tzvi Miller and Rachel Prensky-Pomeranz, July 14, 2011
The Peoplehood Experience: Kennes
Taylor Salberg and Eliana Rosenthal, July 19, 2011
Kiryat Shmonah
Dani Roof and Eliana Rosenthal, July 28, 2011

The San Francisco Diller Teens in Bat Yam on the Mediterranean

Montreal Diller Teen Fellows volunteering with the Jaffa Institute

The Diller Teen Initiatives are funded by the Helen Diller Family Foundation, a supporting foundation of the Jewish Community Federation and Endowment Fund.

The Sounds of Silence

A few weeks ago Rabbi Jason Klein volunteered his time to lead a powerful conversation with young people participating in the 15th Annual National LGBTQQI Jewish Student Conference (NUJLS) at Brandeis University. He asked the students to talk about a moment in their lives through the voice of someone else that experienced it. Either by default or due to the specific interest of the topics covered at the conference each of the students participating in Rabbi Klein’s conversation this Shabbat evening volunteered to talk about their coming out stories as LGBTQQI.

As you can imagine each of the stories were incredibly moving. One of the students spoke about their experience of participating in The Day of Silence at their Jewish High School the year before. On this particular Day of Silence at this students school other students began to make it safe for this student to feel like they could be themselves outwardly for the first time. How did that happen? Easy: multiple students choose to take some form of a vow of silence to bring attention to anti-LGBT name-calling, bullying and harassment in schools. This student telling us the story of their coming out visually saw advocates surrounding them for the first time. They then mentioned how important support around the Day of Silence was in trying to understand how to navigate their own next steps in coming out.learn more about the day of silence on the jewish federation site

You can help young people learn about themselves, their friends and their community by being an advocate for this day of action. Here are a few details to share with young people in your life:

Posted via Lisa Finkelstein, Director of Federations’ LGBT Alliance.

Tune in to the Teen Foundation

The Jewish Community Teen Foundation was featured on KQED’s Marketplace Money as part of a larger piece about youth philanthropy and the increasing number of youth getting involved.  The piece aired this week on KQED 88.5 FM.

Two San Francisco/Marin Jewish Community Teen Foundation board members were interviewed for this piece and can be heard as part of this feature. This is very exciting for our community and our teens who have invested so much in making the teen foundation program a model of excellence.

More youth become engaged in philanthropy

More youth become engaged in philanthropyThese days, young people are getting more involved in higher-end decisions that have traditionally been reserved for adults. They’re sitting on foundation boards and allocating grant money to nonprofits. April Dembosky reports.


DOWNLOAD PODCAST (Start 25 minutes in)

Taking teens to the next level

“If you give them responsibility, they take it and run with it.”
- Sue Schwartzman

We’re offering teens in 9th-11th grades an opportunity to become strategic grantmakers.
Apply today

Remember the movie Big, in which a 12-year-old boy inhabits the adult body of Tom Hanks and, among other adventures in dramatic irony, wows the heads of a toy company with his insights? Well, for even longer than Big has been out on VHS, a Bay Area–based movement has known that teens are good at consulting on more than PlayStation 3. They’re also instinctively savvy about deciding which after-school program or malaria-prevention project is worthy of a $5,000 to $10,000 grant.

“We live in a one-touch society where as soon as kids turn on their computers, they’re seeing faces of children in need all around the world,” says Sue Schwartzman, Director of Youth Philanthropy of the Bay Area–based Jewish Community Teen Foundations, where grants are decided by teen-led boards.

Jewish Community Teen Foundations - Apply Today

What do teens get out of it? They get to connect with Jewish teens, enhance their leadership skills, develop their Jewish identity, debate about tough choices and engage in social justice issues and contribute to a fund being matched by the program’s funders. All this while learning how to become effective strategic grantmakers.

The Jewish Community Teen Foundations offers teens in 9th-11th grades an opportunity to engage in Philanthropy in a social setting. This program gives them a foundation that empowers them to move from empathy into action. Last year, 94 teens raised and granted over $177,000 and now they’re hooked!

Applications are now available to serve on the 2010-2011 board and are due October 4th. Please contact us to nominate any Jewish teens that you feel should be involved. More information can be found at


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