From a regular kid to a kid with a cause

As we enter our centennial year, the Federation is working to make Jewish life compelling for the next generation. According to recent studies, only 13% of 12-17 year-olds are enrolled in some form of formal Jewish education. We know that the lack of engagement now can lead to discontinuity and disconnection as adults. That’s why at Federation, we engage teenagers in order to instill the values of tzedakah (justice), tikkun olam (repair of the world), and gimilut Hasidim (acts of loving kindness) through a Jewish lens. I’d like to tell you about Anya, who transformed from a quiet ninth grade girl to a confident leader and mentor through her year as a Teen Foundation board member.   After her Bat Mitzvah, Anya had little involvement with other Jewish teens. Anya’s parents served as inspirational role models to their sensitive and intelligent girl. Her father, who didn’t let his confinement to a wheelchair limit him, infused his daughter with a determination to overcome obstacles; and her mother, an education rights attorney, instilled Anya with a perceptive, yet confident passion for change.  

Anya, Teen Foundation Board Advisor

Anya, Teen Foundation Board Mentor. Photo © Aaron Breetwor

In searching for peers who could understand and relate to her sense of higher purpose, Anya’s interest peaked when she came across a flyer for the Teen Foundations.   Last year Anya and like-minded students who participated in the Teen Foundation raised $52,000 to give out in grants. Anya and her fellow board members had to make tough decisions about where the dollars they raised would go. They struggled with how much should go to Jewish versus secular communities. Ultimately some of their grants went to support 5 young children at an Israeli orphanage. And, wanting to help others help themselves, they also dedicated grants to help Darfur Refugees reclaim shower water that would enable them to start a garden that would supplement their meager food rations and give them produce to sell at the market.   Today, Anya is serving on the leadership council and has gone from a shy and quiet participator to a persuasive leader and mentor for first-year Teen Foundation board members.

In 2009, the Federation invested more than $2.9 million in teen and young adult programs, including the Teen Foundations, which raised a combines total of $166,360 last year, to ensure that our community thrives in the future. These programs strengthen Jewish identity, secure a connection to Israel, teach about Judaism, and help create awareness of worldwide Jewish and broader communities in need of investment and change.  

Read more about how the generosity of our community changes lives in the 2009 Impact Report, an annual report that combines the philanthropic outcomes of Federation’s Annual Campaign and the endowed funds of the Jewish Community Endowment Fund.  

Your support ensures that our community remains vibrant and strong, now and in the future.  



Jennifer Gorovitz, Acting CEO

Categories: Teens


February 02, 2010