Jewish teen leaders worldwide were nominated by friends and voted in by a special committee as the most inspiring Jewish teen leaders of 2021. The winners were chosen because of the great impact they’ve had as young leaders of their local Jewish communities.
by Ashira Weiss
The world’s fastest growing Jewish teen network has today announced the winners of their inaugural annual “Eight Under Eighteen” program which spotlights teens making a difference in their communities.
CTeen, the Chabad Teen Network, engages hundreds of thousands of Jewish teens through its six-hundred chapters, in thirty-seven countries, on six continents.
And the eight winners are…
Andrew Belder, 18
Council Rock High School South, Bucks County, Pennsylvania
…Two years ago, Andrew decided to wear tefillin every day. It wasn’t long before his two best friends joined him and now the three of them meet every Sunday morning, together with Andrew’s little brother and six of his seventh-grade peers, and together they all put on tefillin and say the prayers… Read More.
…After her Rebbetzin showed her and a couple of her peers some footage of a CTeen International Shabbaton, Gaby was blown away at the thought that she could connect with thousands of other Jewish teens. And she wanted that, not just for herself, but for her younger siblings and for the other Jewish teens in Knoxville… So there and then, she assumed leadership of the newly founded CTeen Knoxville and from that initial meeting of three, she has found and connected thirty Jewish Knoxville teens with her chapter… Read More.
…He applied for a federal grant through a program called “Rising Youth,” which gives people aged fifteen to thirty funding for humanitarian initiatives. When his request for $1500 was granted, he purchased ten tablets with headphones and accessories and then set about calling members of the Synagogue he attends with his Grandpa. He found ten isolated Seniors, delivered the devices to them, and set about teaching the recipients to use Instagram, Facebook, email and play games. But, ever the doer, Michael couldn’t stop there…. Read More.
S. Maur, France
…With some friends she initiated ‘SOS Grandpa,’ a program that encouraged teens to call their grandparents or an elderly friend or relative and check in on them once a week. They offered prizes for teens who posted screenshots of their calls on social media, which in turn spread the word and got more teens to join the effort… Hundreds of teens got involved, to the point where the CEO of Fizzer, an e-postcard company, gave SOS Grandpa participants a promo code that allowed them to send postcards to their grandparents for free… Read More.
Sam (Shmuel) Virine
…Then he heard of JText, a program that sends out weekly Jewish trivia questions via text message to local teens, offering prizes for correct responses. Sam cold-called members of the local Jewish community and soon raised enough money to bring the program to Calgary and sponsor the weekly awards. JText in Calgary now has one hundred teens engaging weekly… Read More.
Palm Desert, California
… In heat, humidity and torrential downpours, Sasha and her peers spent three weeks digging earth, painting and constructing as they repaired a playground for needy children. “It was a reality check for me; it made me realize how lucky I am for what I have,” she says. And as the group celebrated Shabbat each weekend Sasha had another realization; “No matter where I am, even in the Dominican Republic, I can celebrate being Jewish.” … Read More.
Sonoma County, California
…Shai and her cousin make presentations on a variety of [Jewish] topics and both Jewish and non-Jewish kids take part. After one club meeting where the group had discussed the atrocities of the Holocaust, a student came over and apologized to Shai. There had recently been a trend of students sharing Holocaust jokes on social media, in group chats and in person. The student apologized for participating. “He said he didn’t realize the Holocaust was so bad…” Read More.
Woodcliff Lake, NJ
…When she felt ready to implement the laws of modesty in her life she worried at first, as all teens do, about what her friends would say if she showed up at her public school in a knee-length skirt. But she did it anyway because she believed it was right and was proud of her belief… she and her friend established Club Chai. Twenty kids showed up to their first event and their numbers grew as the weeks went by… Read More.