Teen ELI edJEWprize: Teen Voices Take Center Stage

By Ilisa Cappell and Miriam Brosseau

Schechter Day School Network and ELI talks were thrilled to join forces to provide an opportunity for the students in Jewish day schools to share their passions and big Jewish ideas. Student contest edJEWprize: Teen ELI talks launched to the field in March 2015 and in this inaugural year, received over 40 submissions from day school students in grades 6-12 across the country.

Students were asked to develop a talk that reflected an inspired Jewish idea and addressed the foundational concepts for ELI talks: Jewish engagement (E), literacy (L), and identity (I) with Israel and Peoplehood at the core. Developing a Teen ELI talk, served as a powerful method of instilling a sense of Jewish pride and confidence. Participants benefited from a meaningful experience and day schools enjoyed sharing their students’ powerful stories.

Our panel of judges had the good fortune to watch students share passionate stories about their own Jewish journeys. Our judges included representatives from our organizations and individuals with expertise in the use of social media to convey compelling visions of the Jewish future. The judges are:

  • Miriam Brosseau, Director of Engagement, See3 Communications, and Program Director of ELI Talks
  • Ilisa Cappell, Associate Director, Schechter Day School Network
  • Shaily Hakimian, Intern, See3 Communications
  • Rabbi Raphael Shore, Founder and CEO, Jerusalem U

Together, we are proud to announce the following winners:

  • “Appreciate the Miracles,” Tal Dimenstein, 8th grade, Sollie San Diego Hebrew Day School, San Diego, California.
  • “Being Open Minded: A Jewish Approach to Teaching and Learning”, Jacob Fergason, 8th grade, Yavneh Day School, Los Gatos, California.
  • “Pikuach Nefesh: A Story of Friendship,” Rachel Levy, 8th Grade, Martin J. Gottlieb Day School, Jacksonville, Florida.
  • “The Only One,” Elad Ohayon, 6th Grade, Martin J. Gottlieb Day School, Jacksonville, Florida.
  • “Journey to Judaism: A Personal Story,” Channah Thomas, 7th Grade, Martin J. Gottlieb Day School, Jacksonville, FL.

Tal Dimenstein of Soille San Diego Hebrew Day School gave a talk in Chicago in June with other captivating and passionate personalities as ELI Talks launched another recording of Inspired Jewish Ideas. Tal’s talk entitled “Finding the Hidden Miracles” is based on her edJEWprize: Teen ELI talk and is now available for all to view.

Schechter Day School Network and ELI Talks are proud of this collaboration which gives voice and space to the passion of our day school students.

Ilisa Cappell is Associate Director at Schechter Day School Network. Miriam Brosseau is Director of Engagement at See3 Communications.