Saturday, January 23, 2021

So you are the parent of a high school student. What an exciting, yet often stressful, time for both of you. Is your child feeling like they need to spread their wings? Do you wonder how to help them grow in a positive way? Do you also wonder how to do this within a Jewish context? If your answers are yes, please see the wonderful opportunities below.

StandWithUs is an international, nonpartisan Israel education organization that inspires and educates people of all ages and backgrounds, challenges misinformation and fights anti-Semitism. In 2012 StandWithUs started its High School Internship, a leadership program that prepares students for the challenges they may face regarding Israel in college and in their communities. Interns in the year-long program attend two conferences including the International “Israel In Focus,” which will be held virtually January 30-31, 2021. Students have ongoing educational online workshops and receive guidance on how to run programs that inspire their peers and educate about Israel.


For parents, an added benefit is that the internship is absolutely 100% free! StandWithUs pays for all of the student’s flights and conference fees, and provides the materials, support and funding in order to plan and implement successful Israel education programs.

The StandWithUs Teen Leadership Council (TLC) may be a good fit for you and your teen to explore if a shorter time period would better fit your teen’s commitment level. It provides opportunities for your teen to further their knowledge and play a vital role in ensuring that other teens in their community are connected to Israel. The four-month program includes individual and group learning about Israel, mentorship in leadership skills and community building, access to StandWithUs speakers and materials and an opportunity to plan innovative Israel programming.

StandWithUs Bar & Bat Mitzvah Project just launched to inspire the newest generation of young adults to build strong Jewish and Zionist identities. SWU offers opportunities for bnai mitzvah to learn so that they can educate their family and community about Israel and anti-Semitism. Bnai mitzvah and their parents can choose from a wide variety of selections that appeal to them, such as sharing educational materials, bringing StandWithUs speakers to their community, and learning through the iLink curriculum. Virtual tours of Jerusalem through StandWithUs Discover are a great way for bnai mitzvah to experience Israel in a meaningful way. They can even place notes in the Kotel!

For more information visit www.standwithus.com.

The Tikvah Fund offers several initiatives in the United States, Israel and around the world, for both high school and college students. The Tikvah Fund is a think tank and educational institution focusing on the foundational ideas of Jewish civilization, the great challenges facing the Jewish people and the State of Israel, and the political, moral and economic traditions of Western civilization and American democracy. The main interest is challenging exceptional students—from middle school to high school, from gap year to college, from graduate students to emerging professionals—to become Jewish leaders and Jewish citizens. They offer a range of programs, classes and fellowships. Programs for teens and college students include the Tikvah Online Academy, College Fellowship, and the Tikvah Scholars Program, which will have two tracks, one for students in yeshiva high schools, community day schools and other Jewish schools, while the other track will be for other Jewish high school students interested in exploring complex ideas. Please note, the two scholars programs have not yet been confirmed for this summer because of COVID.

For more information visit https://tikvahfund.org.

Would your teen like to win $36,000? Then the Diller Tikkun Olam Awards is something that you both should look into. You, your teen’s teacher, rabbi, community leader or someone who knows the value of your teen’s leadership, can nominate your teen or your teen can apply themselves. If someone is nominating a teen, they must submit the application by December 18, 2020. Nominated teens will then be asked to complete a full application. If the teen is applying directly, the application must be submitted by January 8, 2021. The Diller Tikkun Olam Awards honor Jewish teens who demonstrate remarkable leadership and engagement in projects that embody the values of tikkun olam. For information contact [email protected] or 415-684-8618, or text “diller” to 31996.

The Diller Teen Fellows, which is a fellowship and study program, is another program to check out. It is an immersive leadership program inviting a select group of Jewish 10th and 11th graders from six continents and 32 communities to step up, lead their communities and repair the world. Training features a commitment to hands-on tikkun olam, building a connection to the Jewish people and Israel, and deepening Jewish identity. The program provides a unique model for experiencing Jewish pluralism and peoplehood. In one year, selected students from around the globe are empowered to learn how to become the next generation of Jewish leaders.

After completing the fellowship year, alumni become part of the Global Alumni Network, a global connection of active and committed Jewish leaders. Alumni are provided with opportunities to continue to deepen their individual Jewish identities and are supported through multiple platforms as they continue to make a difference in the world. For information, contact [email protected] or 415-512-6239.

If you are thinking ahead to the summer, there are also some wonderful options to engage your teen. FindYourSummer.org has lots of information about scholarships and internships for teens, with a specific focus on unique summer programs. You and your teen can search this site to find more than 400 programs that will appeal to their different passions, interests and backgrounds. FindYourSummer.org is operated by The Jewish Education Project. For information visit https://findyoursummer.org/scholarships or www.FindYourSummer.org

Susan R. Eisenstein is a long-time Jewish educator, passionate about creating special innovative activities for her students. She is also passionate about writing about Jewish topics and writing about Israel. Susan has two master’s degrees and a doctorate in education from Columbia University.