I thoroughly enjoyed my experience on the Teen Board. Not only did I learn about the grant-making process and the true meaning of philanthropy, but I came to understand so many of the issues within our community that are in the need of being addressed. The Teen Board gave me a new understanding of how many people are in need of help, and has helped me to further understand and appreciate how fortunate I am. Most importantly, the Teen Board has shown me the power that we, as Jewish teens, have to make a difference.
Maddie Fink, Teen Board 2016 Alum
In working with the JTFN (Jewish Teen Funders Network) Youth Ambassador Council (YAC) this year, I have been exposed to many different viewpoints from my own. As a secular Jew, while I identify culturally as Jewish, I do not practice religiously. So in trying to find what Jewish community means to me, I was compelled to represent my work in philanthropy. Working in The Jewish Fund Teen Board, I’ve had the opportunity to connect with my peers in order to impart change in the world and create great impact.
Philanthropy to me is the act of giving where giving is needed. Philanthropy, in my mind, sees no boundaries, and this is something we are constantly talking about in the YAC — “where should our money go?”, “why do we give where we give?” I have shared my voice unabashedly during our meetings, and will reinforce it here — I believe we give to people or causes we identify with, whether that includes our religion, our city, or our school. This is why I think it is so incredibly important that organizations like the Teen Board and the YAC include as diverse members as possible, so that we are not blinded by our non-exposure to issues beyond our horizons.
The first step to making change is discussing, trying to hear the voices of all people who need to be heard. Discussing kehillah, expressing ourselves through art and stories, these are what spread awareness of the differences that make us who we are. As long as we continue to discuss, to give what we have, to care about others, our kehillah will continue to grow and encapsulate diverse ideas and perspectives, and the impact of our philanthropic activity will spread, making better people, a better country, and a better world.
Teen Board 2016, JTFN Youth Ambassador 2017
My Extended Learning Experience
*Through the generous funding of the Max M. & Marjorie S. Fisher Foundation, The Jewish Fund Teen Board is able to offer our alumni stipends to extend their learning in philanthropy and social impact.
Through JustCity, a leadership conference at JTS in the Upper West Side of New York City, I learned about the role that Judaism plays in social justice and how I can make a difference in the world. Mondays through Thursdays over the two week period, we participated in two classes: one course taught by Rabbi Stephanie Ruskay that investigated the relationship between Judaism and social justice, and one course taught by Anna Serviansky, called Change Making 101, that allowed us to apply our knowledge to create an approach at solving an issue important to us, which we eventually presented in front of judges. Rabbi Ruskay’s course gave me insight into my Judaism that I never otherwise would have had. The class focused around relating Jewish texts to controversial issues we saw around us. I had never completed a text study before, nor had I ever realized how many of my morals are rooted in Judaism. Social justice depends on the morals taught through Judaism. The one text that sums up the lessons that I learned at JustCity: I can make a change in the world and I should begin that change immediately. I was able to see that age doesn’t matter when it comes to social justice…as long as there is a passion, there is a possibility of great change. Site visits also helped to reinforce this message.
I used my lessons from Rabbi Ruskay’s class, as well as from the site visits and presentation sin my personal project for Change Making 101. I partnered with a peer to draft an approach to better integrate faiths into the school system, providing no homework days or days off for holy days for religions other than Christianity, as well as a culture day to spread awareness among the school community
Teen Board: Year 2, 2018
South Oakland Shelter Intern
*Through the generous funding of the Max M. & Marjorie S. Fisher Foundation, The Jewish Fund Teen Board is able to offer our alumni paid non-profit summer internships.
Working at the South Oakland Shelter was an experience I’ll always cherish and look back on. Working at the shelter gave me a feel of what working at an office setting is like and how it operates. It was my job to set up and plan a 5k/10k to raise money for the shelter so that they continue to move people into homes, and lower the homelessness rates in Metro Detroit. The run was on August 6th so throughout June and July I called former race participants to see if they would like to run this year, sent out emails for the run, advertised the race on websites, made a snapchat filter for the race, contacted various businesses for a possible sponsorships, and helped package envelopes. The day of the race on August 6th was unforgettable. It felt so good to look back and see how much my work meant. It was a great feeling and one that made me feel so good about myself. Overall, I had an amazing time and I hope I can work there again next summer! I loved the staff and learned how amazing the South Oakland Shelter really is.
Teen Board: Year 2, 2018