b'Featured Impact StoryA Place to Connect, Express Yourself, and Hang with Your Teen CrewContra Costa Midrasha (CCM) is a Walnut Creek-based Federation partner that engages teens in Jewish life through communal activities, cultural exchanges, educational experiences, and whatever form of fun they can come up with. Its Executive Director, Devra Aarons, has a wonderfully inspiring philosophy when it comes to the young people in her purview: When a teen asks me for something, and theres a chance I can do it, the plan is to always answer yes. Of course, the execution of that plan seems like a herculean task, given the circumstances were currently living through. But thankfully, Devra doesnt have time to consider any alternative answers. Shes too busy doing the impossible.Much as the teens flock to the culinary One of CCMs impossibilities-turned-reality hasprogramming, the underlying reason why the been their retention of so many teenagersteens keep coming is that CCM addresses a throughout the pandemic, despite theirpowerful need for connection. I think 90% of temporary migration to online programming.what we do is about relationship building, CCM is offering some of the most engagingDevra said. And indeed, there is an authentic online opportunities for activity-starved teensintimacy and connectedness in the CCM to get social while social distancing. community that doesnt happen just because its fun. They bond because the teens are One of their most popular events has beenempowered to express their identities and their monthly celebrity chef cookingtheir Jewish values in ways that are personally experiences, including their Fall-Tastic Food meaningful.Series where acclaimed chefs from all over the world shared their time, expertise, and, ofNowhere is that more evident than in their course, recipes. Over the summer, a $12,000Hamsa Fund, which provides Jewish teens Federation Teen Initiative COVID-19 Summerfrom all over the East Bay with the opportunity Program grant made it possible for Foodto learn how to fundraise and run their own Network star chef Jet Tila to teach kids how tophilanthropic foundations and get hands-on make pineapple fried rice. Other tutorialsexperience addressing problems they see in included eggrolls from scratch by Cheftheir community. The program, which is Menachem Mendel Davis (Zooming fromalmost entirely teen run and collaborates Baltimore), Sephardic hand pies from Chefclosely with the Federations Jewish Teen Helene Jawhara Piner (Zooming from France),Foundation, culminates in a grant allocation and root-veggie latkes andceremony where teens give out grants to the pear-apple sauce from Chef Liz Alpernparticular nonprofit organizations whose work (Zooming from Brooklyn). aligns with the Jewish values that are fostered every week at CCM.19'