Teens Come Together to Combat Domestic Violence

Announcing the 2020-2021 JTF Board mission statement and members

Each year, teens from across the Bay Area are carefully selected to serve on the Jewish Teen Foundation (JTF) Board. In their role as Board members, teens come to a consensus on a mission statement to guide their work for the year, fundraise for the cause, vet and award grants to mission-aligned nonprofit organizations, and much more in between.

JTF 2020-2021 Board Members

With COVID-19 and a shelter-in-place order, this year’s JTF Retreat needed to be different, more creative, and more intentional than ever before. Rather than a weekend-long in-person retreat, the teens met via Zoom and connected with each other about their values, engaged with prominent philanthropists and social entrepreneurs, and ultimately came to a consensus on their mission statement.

JTF 2020-2021 Mission statement:

The Jewish Teen Foundation is committed to supporting organizations/initiatives that provide direct services and preventative measures to ensure people affected by domestic violence will be physically and mentally safe.

According to Shalom Bayit, studies show that 20%-30% of Jewish families in the U.S. and Israel experience domestic violence. While the issue of domestic violence is not new, it has not always come to the forefront of our attention. So, how did these 33 teens come to a consensus to make it a priority this year? The answer is two-fold: their understanding of pressing communal issues and JTF’s updated programming strategies.

COVID-19 and the shelter-in-place orders have forced everyone to reevaluate their priorities and appreciate what they have in new and meaningful ways. Teens did not realize how much they would miss school until they were no longer able to attend. With the significant increase in time spent at home, teens are aware that for many, home is not a safe place. While there are so many worthwhile causes to address, our teens recognized the added urgency this population is now facing.

Putting People Before Programs

JTF teaches teens to assess pressing community needs and gain skills to create positive change. The biggest change we have implemented to our programming is shifting the focus from issues (i.e. homelessness, climate change, poverty) to populations. In order for the teens to exercise their empathy muscles and enable better outcomes, we identified specific populations in our community, such as victims of gun violence, people affected by environmental issues, and people experiencing racial/religious discrimination. This shift humanized the issues (prioritizing people over buzzwords) and forced teens to think about all the issues a certain population is facing, rather than focusing on one issue that is affecting a large number of people.

Having come to the decision to focus on people affected by domestic violence, in the coming months, the JTF Board will:

  • Research – Seek an in-depth understanding of the issues facing this population and mission-aligned nonprofits working to support them through research, informational interviews, and volunteering.
  • Report – Share learnings with fellow Board members.
  • Fundraise – Learn how to be intentional and effective philanthropists and fundraisers.
  • Decide and Allocate – Discuss, debate, and come to a consensus on which nonprofits will receive funds and how much money to allocate to each grantee.
  • Communicate – Inform selected nonprofits about the awarded funds.
  • Declare – Present final grant decisions to the community and showcase newfound knowledge with a call to action.

Meet the 2020-2021 JTF Board Members:

Amalya Salamo, San Francisco*
Amitai Smyla, San Mateo*
Ari Katsav, Los Altos
Asi Cohen, San Anselmo
Brian Hoyle, Atherton
Elan Smyla, San Mateo
Emma Friedman-Lowenthal, Mill Valley
Gabby Levin-Meer, Corte Madera
Gaby Galinson, Berkeley
Gil ladetzky, Kentfield
Haley Rothbart, Corte Madera
Henrik Shragge, San Francisco
Jesse Resnick, San Carlos
Jonah Lipson, San Carlos
Julia Jeck, San Mateo
Karen Glenn, Palo Alto
Keely Ganong, Kentfield*

Leah Verba, Burlingame
Lilian Hakimi, Corte Madera
Max Engel, San Bruno*
Max Bloom, Petaluma
Maya Caparaz, Albany*
Mia Finestone, San Rafael
Naomi Lenchner, Mill Valley
Nathan Friedman-Lowenthal, Mill Valley
Neve Cohen, Piedmont
Noa Miasnik, Los Altos Hills*
Phoebe McMahon, Albany
Sage Gilbert, Piedmont
Sam Sarver, Hillborough*
Talia Weinstein, Burlingame
Tobey Miner, San Mateo
Zoe Greenspan, San Mateo

*Leadership Council member

We are so proud of the 2020-2021 JTF Board and excited for the work they will accomplish this year!

Learn more about the Jewish Teen Foundation, or contact Rachel Halevi for more information.

Categories: Teens, Philanthropy


December 04, 2020


Rachel Halevi