Meet The Fellows Monday!

Meet The Fellows Monday!

It’s #MeetTheFellowsMonday! Over the course of the 2019-20 program year, the #JTIBoston #PeerLeadershipFellows will say hello and share a bit about themselves and the work they’re doing to help our community be a more connected and inclusive place for #JewishBostonTeens.

January 13, 2020: Meet Gavin, a junior at Algonquin Regional High School in Northborough, MA. He enjoys playing on his school’s basketball team as well as being a member of many other clubs. Gavin loves to read books and be outside in nature. He is also an active participant in NFTY NE | Northeast Region. Gavin is extremely passionate about philosophy and political science and is always down to have an awesome conversation, no matter when or where!

“I joined the #JTIBoston #PeerLeadershipFellows because I believe in the importance of making connections with #JewishBostonTeens and asking them what they are interested in…and I wanted to be a part of that.” – Gavin Weinberg, Metrowest Cohort 3

January 6, 2020: #MeetTheFellowsMonday is back for 2020! Meet Rachel, a junior at Westborough High School. Rachel is involved in Best Buddies and Rangers for a Cure and enjoys playing field hockey for the school. They are a member of the Beth Tikvah, BBYO New England Region, and Official Camp Young Judaea communities.

“I choose to join the #JTIBoston #PeerLeadershipFellows because I wanted to connect my special ed expertise and experience to my Jewish identity. I am so excited to be a Peer Inclusion Fellow, as I have made new friends and gained new skills while helping the Jewish community. I was inspired to take on this role as I want all #JewishBostonTeens to be able to experience what I am privileged enough to experience, no matter their ability.” – Rachel Fredman, Peer Inclusion Cohort 2

December 30, 2019: It’s our last #MeetTheFellowsMonday of 2019! Meet Josh, a senior at Needham High School. He is involved in the DECA chapter at his school and loves to attend NFTY events. He studied abroad in Israel with URJ Heller High (Formerly NFTY-EIE), is a member of Temple Beth Elohim – Wellesley, MA and has been involved in the development of He is a proud alum of URJ Kutz Camp, loves to travel and is always on the go!

“I joined the #JTIBoston #PeerLeadershipFellows because I wanted to connect other #JewishBostonTeens to amazing experiences that have changed my life. My hope is that everyone finds the right experience for them and that it has a special impact on them as well.” – Josh May, Metrowest Cohort 3

December 16, 2019: Meet Amanda, a senior at Peabody Veterans Memorial High School. She has been dancing for 14 years, 5 of which she spent on a competition team. She has also been figure skating since the age of 3 and likes to draw. Amanda has spent the past ten summers at Camp Pembroke as a camper and now as a staff member. She also became a member of BBYO this past fall.

“I love being one of the #PeerLeadershipFellows in my community, not only to establish meaningful relationships with my peers, but to help connect them with some of the same opportunities that have shaped me into who I am today.” – Amanda Lewis, North Shore Cohort 4

December 9, 2019: Meet Anna, a junior at Swampscott High School. She is involved in the I Am That Girl Club, Peer Leaders Club, International Relations Club, and is involved with student council, volunteers for Rovers Special Olympics Soccer, and sings in her synagogue’s teen choir, the Chai Notes. Anna also enjoys playing on her school’s volleyball, indoor track, and sailing teams. She is a member of Congregation Shirat Hayam, spends her summers as a counselor at Camp Tel Noar and is excited to continue her work with the #PeerLeadershipFellows Peer Inclusion Track as a Senior Fellow!

“I became a #JTIBoston #PeerInclusionFellow because I believe that our Jewish community has so much potential to grow and expand through #inclusion. There are so many amazing opportunities for ALL #JewishBostonTeens and I’m so excited to be working to include everyone in our community” – Anna Levenberg, Peer Inclusion Cohort 2

December 2, 2019: Meet Lucy, a sophomore at Marblehead High School. She enjoys playing sports, including volleyball and tennis. Lucy is a member of Temple Emanu-El in Marblehead, MA, and she attends Camp Tel Noar in Hampstead, New Hampshire. Lucy loves playing with her pet, corgi named Chloe!

“I joined the #JTIBoston #PeerLeadershipFellows program so I could get more teens involved in the Jewish community. I have found amazing opportunities within the community and I love the idea of engaging more #JewishBostonTeens. I am looking forward to strengthening my connections with my peers and developing my leadership skills.” – Lucy New, North Shore Cohort 4

November 25, 2019: Meet Nate, a sophomore at Marblehead High School. He plays soccer and hockey and enjoys most sports, board games, and other brain puzzles. Nate likes to read and play video games and is a Madrich (teaching assistant) and member at Temple Emanu-El, Marblehead, MA

“I joined the #PeerLeadershipFellows because I thought it was really sad that so many Jewish teens became disconnected so soon after they became B’nei Mitzvah. Getting involved with #JTIBoston seemed like a really good opportunity to change that and give anyone Jewish a happy and welcoming Jewish community.” – Nate Samuels, North Shore Cohort 4

photoNovember 18, 2019: Meet Leah, a sophomore at Gann Academy. She is involved in the school’s literary magazine, newspaper, and more. She enjoys hiking, writing, reading, spending time with her friends, and playing on her school’s soccer and softball teams. Leah is a member of Temple Beth Shalom and loves participating in her temple’s youth group!

“I became a #JTIBoston #PeerLeadershipFellow because I have always felt connected to and at home in my Jewish community, and I would love to help other #JewishBostonTeens feel the same way.” – Leah Koritz, Metrowest Cohort 3

photoNovember 11, 2019: It’s #MeetTheFellowsMonday after a jam-packed weekend for #JewishBostonTeens!

The #JTIBoston #PeerLeadershipFellows were all over the map with their BBYO & NFTY NE friends! It sounds like BBYO Fall Convention and URJ Youth Northeast Homecoming were awesome! Looking for more? Visit to see how you can get connected!

photoNovember 4, 2019: Meet Sam, a Junior at Wayland High School. He is involved in student government and loves to discuss and debate pressing political issues. In his free time, Sam enjoys hanging out with friends and helping with social action projects in his community. Sam is a member of Temple Shir Tikva in Wayland, and is excited to continue his work connecting #JewishBostonTeens for a second year with the #JTIBoston #PeerLeadershipFellows.

photoOctober 28, 2019: Meet Michaela, a senior at Franklin High School! She competes in winter and spring track and field and enjoys playing baritone saxophone in her school’s pep band along with spending time with her friends. She is a member of the Temple Etz Chaim community and spends her summers at Camp Pembroke. She also loves being part of NFTY NE | Northeast Region!

“My favorite aspect of being a JTI Peer Leadership Fellow is getting to connect teens with others through mutual interest.” – Michaela, Metrowest Cohort 3


8 Nights of Light 2019

8 Nights of Light 2019

Over the last 8 nights, #JTIBoston highlighted many of the ways #JewishBostonTeens and our team create, find and share light in our community on our social media channels. Wishing everyone a #Hanukkah and holiday season filled with light, love, and latkes – no matter how you spell or celebrate!

Night #8: As we wrap-up #Chanukah and #8NightsofLight, let us each be inspired and find ways to create, find and share light with others. And a big thank you to our #JTIBoston family and friends who share their light with our community.

Night #7: #JewishBostonTeens have important perspectives to share and #JTIBoston is helping to turn up the volume! 🎙 New on – join the conversation!

Night #6: #JTIBoston has partnered with, CJP – Combined Jewish Philanthropies and Jim Joseph Foundation to make sure that EVERYONE knows about the amazing menu of opportunities available for #JewishBostonTeens! From a community calendar to a searchable directory to blogs and resources for Jewish professionals – go explore & connect on!

Night #5: In partnership with local synagogues, schools, camps, and community organizations, #JTIBoston and our #PeerLeadershipFellows are working to remove the barriers and spread the word – there is an amazing menu of opportunities available for #JewishBostonTeens! In prioritizing PEOPLE over programs, we can help more teens connect in ways that best match their interests and schedules. Know a teen looking for new ways to connect to their Jewish identity and community? Contact a member of the JTI Boston Team to grab a coffee and learn more!

Night 4: #JewishBostonTeens travel to communities around the country to help repair and rebuild after natural disasters. #JTIBoston coordinates alternative break and summer service trips in partnership with organizations like Repair the World SBP and Habitat for Humanity, fostering deeper connections between values, identity, and community while providing life-changing opportunities for teens to give back and help others. Watch out for details about our summer (June 2020) service trip…coming soon.

Night #3: Each year, #JTIBoston takes a delegation of #JewishBostonTeens to Washington, DC to join hundreds of other Jewish teens at Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism #racltaken Social Justice Seminar as they learn about the issues that impact our communities and explore them through Jewish values and identity, learn how they can be the change they wish to see in the world and turn their passions into actions. Learn more about this transformative experience and what our teens will be doing this February as they take on our nation’s capital and meet with elected officials

Night #2: #JTIBoston’s signature #PeerLeadershipFellows program is changing what connectivity and inclusion can look like for #JewishBostonTeens. Each month, Fellows are helping to remove the barriers to participation – helping their peers have access to and knowledge of the vast menu of opportunities that exist for teens in #JewishBoston and beyond. Our Peer Inclusion Cohort is working with The Ruderman Family Foundation New England Yachad BBYO New England Region NFTY NE | Northeast Region and other local youth-serving organizations to help make Jewish life more accessible and inclusive for teens of all abilities. We are proud to be partnering with Hillel International CJP – Combined Jewish Philanthropies & Jewish Teen Education & Engagement Funder Collaborative as we continue to build and expand these innovative approaches to teen engagement.

Night #1: #JewishBostonTeens create and spread light through their acts of Tikkun Olam – repairing our world. Throughout the year, #JTIBoston empowers teens to get out and make our communities brighter for everyone through our signature community service days. Roll-up your sleeves and join us in 2020!

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Marblehead High School Juniors

create Jewish Student Union

By Michael Wittner

MARBLEHEAD – High school can be a stressful place, especially around finals time, but falafel, sufganiyot and stimulating conversation among friends always help.

These are now on weekly offer to Marblehead High School students thanks to juniors Abby Avin and Isabella London, who have recently started a Jewish Student Union at their school. Avin and London founded the MHS chapter of the national high school youth organization to increase awareness and foster community.

“We wanted a space for people to make friends and meet other people who are Jewish or just interested in Judaism,” said London, who along with Avin has been involved with a local chapter of the B’nai B’rith Youth Organization, a Jewish teen youth group, the Jewish Teen Initiative (where London initially heard about JSU) and StandWithUs, an Israel advocacy organization.

The club kicked off in October with a celebration of Sukkot. Since then, their weekly Monday meetings have included an Israel event featuring discussion and falafel-making, meeting with Israeli “shinshinim” close to their age who are spending a gap year working with and teaching at local Jewish schools and community centers, and discussions about Jewish holidays, culture, and current Jewish events and politics. Though most of the approximately 20 regular attendees are Jewish, about five are not, and Avin and London stress that the club is open to everyone.

The meetings are run by Rabbi Yudi Riesel, the Boston area director of NCSY, an international Jewish youth group run by the Orthodox Union that sponsors Jewish Student Unions in high schools around the world. Riesel, along with his NCSY colleague Miriam Schwartz, travels to JSU clubs in high schools all over Greater Boston (which are mainly in Newton, Brookline, Sharon, and other suburbs south and west of the city) to facilitate activities and discussions. Avin and London have enjoyed working with Riesel and Schwartz, who keep conversations and stories educational, entertaining and laid-back.

“One of Rabbi Yudi’s biggest things is that he doesn’t want this to feel like a boring Hebrew school class – he wants it to be enjoyable for a high school student who just got out of classes for 6½ hours,” said Avin, who noted that Riesel and Schwartz are open to all their ideas for events and discussion topics.

In these fraught times, group discussions can sometimes turn to anti-Semitism. In recent years, numerous high schools around Greater Boston have confronted different anti-Semitic acts, from swastikas to Snapchat groups titled “Kill the Jews.” No events like these have yet been reported at MHS, but it’s still on everyone’s mind. “We talked about what people would do if that happened at our school,” said London, who recalls when a swastika was drawn in a bathroom stall of Marblehead Veterans Middle School. “People are uneducated, and think things they hear about from their parents and their friends, and people they surround themselves with.” London continued that she hopes that in the future, she and her clubmates can lead discussions on anti-Semitism and Israel during health class. They also want to book speakers from StandWithUs and other organizations pertaining to Israel and anti-Semitism.

But in the meantime, it’s Hanukkah, and that means a full celebration making sufganiyot, play dreidel, and listening to Rabbi Yudi’s Hanukkah stories. “We wanted this to be a space where people could make friends,” said Avin.

Reposted from The Jewish Journal – December 19, 2019

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Jewish Teen Initiative Volunteers

prepare and deliver meals to shelters

By the Jewish Journal

For the 11th straight year, volunteers from the Jewish Teen Initiative of Greater Boston gathered at the JCCNS in Marblehead on the Sunday before Thanksgiving to prepare and deliver meals to shelters through the Lynn Shelter Association.

“I remember the first Soup-er Sunday, which grew out of an idea to engage teens while their parents were participating in the Federation Super Sunday Fundraising event,” said Gayle Rubin, co-chair of the JTI Board of Directors.

“To see how the program has grown in every dimension over the past decade is overwhelming and a testament to the goodwill of this community.”

Michele Cohen, also a co-chair of the JTI Board of Directors, added, “This is a dynamic event, and every year we try to add things that make the day run smoothly and ultimately improve what we can provide for the individuals living at the shelters.”

Some of the more meaningful additions over the past few years include the addition of Stars of Hope; decorating pie boxes, in which pies are donated to shelters; and partnering with Temple Emanu-El of Marblehead on the Mitzvah Lounge, where children in grades 3-7 come together to make baked goods to donate to My Brother’s Table.

As the program has grown, JTI has been fortunate to receive substantial sponsorships from local business and community leaders, including the Castraberti family of Prince Pizzeria on Route 1 in Saugus, Shubie’s Marketplace in Marblehead, Brooksby Farm in Peabody, and Leslie and Bob Ogan. Steve Castraberti, who has donated the sauce and cheese for the event for the past few years, commented, “So many people ask me to donate to causes. All of them provide some kind of service to people. I was immediately impressed and taken by the way your team is so hands-on. What the kids do is a lot of work!”

This was the first Soup-er Sunday for Dana Roth, JTI’s new Senior Program Director. “Soup-er Sunday has always been a fantastic way for Jewish teen and adult volunteers to live our Jewish values in a concrete way, by working together on Tikkun Olam (repairing the world) projects that enable us to serve those in need of our assistance,” Roth said. “In my first year at JTI, I was thrilled to see all of our volunteers’ dedication come to fruition to benefit the Lynn Shelter Association. This year we had 96 teen and adult volunteers from 14 North Shore communities. We also had participants from partner agencies including CJP’s North Shore women’s philanthropy group and Yachad.”

Perhaps most significantly is hearing teen perspectives on the day’s events. JTI Peer Leadership Fellow Lucy New remarked, “I am here to give back to my community because I am thankful for the food that I enjoy on Thanksgiving with my family, and I hope to give more people that experience.”

Aviva Bornstein noted, “it feels good to help others,” while Molly Claire Dormer added that the event “impacts everyone involved.”

Yachad Participant Jacob Yellin summed up the day when he said, “I like to give back because it’s fun!”

“The teen and adult volunteers who put on their aprons and make Soup-er Sunday happen are carrying forward our tradition, l’dor v’dor – from generation to generation,” said Brett Lubarsky, JTI’s Associate Director. “We are taught to love the stranger as we love ourselves, and to all who are hungry, come and eat,” Lubarsky said. “Jewish Teen Initiative, along with our incredible communal partners and passionate volunteers, connects Jewish tradition with innovative and engaging community-building opportunities as we come together and help make our world a better place.”

With Soup-er Sunday in the rear-view mirror, JTI has several events coming up in the next couple of months, including an overnight ski trip to Loon Mountain on January 11-12 and the MetroWest Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service on January 20, in Wayland, Mass. JTI Boston will cap off its winter programming by traveling to Washington, D.C. for the RAC’s L’Taken Social Justice Seminar, February 21-24.

For more information on upcoming JTI programs or to get involved, please visit or email [email protected]. For information about teen programming across the Greater Boston area, please visit

Reposted from The Jewish Journal – December 19, 2019

We’re the Teens of Jewish Boston

We’re the Teens of Jewish Boston

Connection, Community & Conversation

Looking for that new podcast to listen to during your holiday travels? Fresh on three #JTIBoston #PeerLeadershipFellows (Ryann Bloom, Rachel Kesser, and Josh May) sound off on what it’s like being a Jewish teen in Greater Boston, how they’re helping to connect our community and how they navigate their personal Jewish journeys. Thanks to our partners at CJP – Combined Jewish Philanthropies for helping to amplify the voices of these leaders in our community. Let us know what you think!

Jim Joseph Foundation NFTY NFTY NE | Northeast Region Samantha Bbyo Walsh Temple Beth Elohim – Wellesley, MA Temple Shir Tikva



With your gift, more #JewishBostonTeens can go on our travel programs – which involve lobbying elected officials about issues that impact our communities, building and repairing homes and exploring what Jewish identity looks and feels like as we enter the next decade. Your support is critical to help us offer these opportunities while removing cost as a barrier.

THANK YOU for enabling and trusting #JTIBoston to do this important work. THANK YOU for your support – on #GivingTuesday and always.

Give today >>

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New Website Connects

Teens to Jewish Life

By Kara Baskin for

I usually write about kid-friendly topics here at JewishBoston, and often that news skews younger, toward the tween-and-under set. Good news: Now JewishBoston has its very own teen-centered website,, which showcases opportunities for leadership, travel, camp, volunteering and more, all in one place.

“The goal is to help our community be better connected when it comes to the opportunities for teens to connect to Jewish life,” says Brett Lubarsky, associate director of the Jewish Teen Initiative of Greater Boston, a partner in creating the site. “The problem is, unless you know somebody who knows somebody, you probably don’t know about the vast majority of opportunities out there because there are so many gatekeepers of this information in the community. We’re trying to remove the barriers and answer the question: ‘How do we get more Jewish teens involved in Jewish life post b’nai mitzvah?’ The first thing, the most important thing, is to make sure they know this stuff exists.” is an initiative of CJP, in partnership with JewishBoston and the Jewish Teen Initiative of Greater Boston. It’s supported by the Jim Joseph Foundation.

Here’s why you (or your teen!) should check it out:

It’s easy!

Events, organizations and blogs, just like at JewishBoston, are easily navigable and customizable via teen-specific criteria: grade level, location (North Shore, Metro West and so on) and interest.

It links Boston-area Jewish teens like never before. At last! 

“Teens said to us, ‘Hey, I’m having conversations with my friends. I find out we’re both into art. Where do I look for the art stuff?’ Or, ‘I’m having conversations with my friends and they tell me they’re into service and volunteerism. Where do I look for the volunteerism stuff?’ There was a gap; there was no central menu of opportunities,” says Adam Smith, former executive director of Jewish Teen Initiative and now associate vice president of young adult and teen engagement at CJP. “Now, teenagers and their parents have a centralized place to find activities and resources, all in one place, instead of relying solely on their JCC or synagogue. This was a tool that was missing.”

There’s lots and lots of content. (But it’s all easily searchable. See above!)

We’re lucky to live in a culturally rich community with plenty of Jewish organizations. But where to begin? Where do you or your family fit in?

“I’m excited because Boston has an incredible array of things. We have an embarrassment of riches in the Jewish teen space in Greater Boston, and we haven’t ever focused our time collectively on a plan to link young people with opportunities that are the right match for them,” Smith says. “The thing I’m fired up about and completely excited about is this is a paradigm shift. We’re placing families and young people in the drivers’ seat to be architects of their own experience, and we’re doing it in partnership with existing content providers. We’re not trying to plan new things. We love all the things!”

There are resources for professionals, too.

Even if you’re not a teen anymore (sorry), the site is still incredibly useful. “We realized the Jewish professionals in our community didn’t have a one-stop shop for resources, so we built that as well: professional development opportunities, best practices, research and upcoming events,” says Lubarsky.

There’s even a Partner Resource Kit for organizations to promote JewishBostonTeens. “We want to make it as easy as possible for teens to connect with and create the Jewish life they want,” says Ashley Jacobs, JewishBoston’s content manager, who led the new site’s creation over 18 months. “We’re excited to be able to provide this valuable resource to the community.”

Click the logo below to browse the website!


Reposted from – November 18, 2019

JTI Hiring

JTI Hiring

APPLY TODAY + spread the word!

JTI Boston is looking for a Middle School Engagement Coordinator. This position is a full-time, year-round position that includes competitive salary, health insurance, paid vacation, sick time, professional development and mentoring/coaching. Our Middle School Engagement Coordinator will:

  • Build and strengthen relationships with pre-teens, teens, and partners throughout the community;
  • Have a passion for planning and coordination, service-learning and organizational relationship building;
  • Bring creativity and energy to marketing, recruitment and outreach efforts and strategies;
  • Develop a menu of opportunities for pre-teens in the Metrowest and North Shore suburbs of Greater Boston;
  • Embrace your love for Jewish Camp! This position has the potential to spend summers as a member of the
    leadership team at Camp Tel Noar, a Cohen Camp located in Hampstead, NH. The successful candidate for
    the position will be interviewed by Camp Tel Noar in a separate process.

#YouthEngagement #JTIBoston #JewishCamp

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Service Day a Huge Success

By Jewish Family Service of Metrowest

FRAMINGHAM – On Sunday, Jewish Teen Initiative hosted the second annual #LoveOurNeighbors Metrowest Community Service Day at Temple Beth Am in Framingham. In partnership with JFS of MetrowestThe Shapiro Foundation, area synagogues and teen organizations, over 100 teen and adult volunteers came together for a morning full of building, sorting, painting, assembling and decorating. Each project will go on to directly support JFS programs, children and families in need in our Metrowest community.

On behalf of the clients we serve, JFS sends so much gratitude to our partners at JTI and the Shapiro Foundation for making the event possible!

The Buddy Benches that were constructed will provide a comfortable space for the Woodrow Wilson School students to sit with friends and know they are a part of welcoming and a caring community.

The donation collection bins will allow for generous members of the community to easily contribute items to the JFS Children’s Clothing Closet.

The boxes of brand-new clothing that were prepared for distribution and the clothing bags that were decorated will help JFS bring comfort and confidence to more kids.

The beautiful murals painted and the clothing bins decorated will make the JFS Children’s Clothing Closet a lively and vibrant space to volunteer and build community.

Thank you again for this amazing contribution and partnership!

Reposted from – October 29, 2019