The Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia helps teens develop their leadership skills in a way that draws a connection between Jewish tradition and contemporary issues. The Diller Teen Fellowship is an incredible one-year leadership training experience for 10th and 11th graders that aims to build the next generation of committed Jewish leaders.
Through monthly leadership programming, Diller inspires and empowers a global network of teens by equipping them with the skills, confidence, knowledge and Jewish values they need to help create a better world. Fellows in the Philadelphia-area cohort build meaningful connections with teens in the cohort’s partner city of Herzilya — including two exchange opportunities, between Philadelphia and Herzilya — culminating in a three-week summer experience that includes the Global Diller Congress with more than 650 fellows from across six continents.
This past year, Diller programming was moved online due to the pandemic. New virtual programming included cohorts becoming community changemakers through local grantmaking. The Diller Teen Fellows Tikkun Olam Grants launched over the summer, a collaboration between Diller Teen Fellows, the Helen Diller Family Foundation and Jewish Teen Funders Network. Cohorts researched local needs and organizations to build consensus about the greatest impact they could have as a group.
Given the economic and health impact of COVID-19 and the fight for racial justice and other social issues, this was an important time to explore the leadership skills necessary to build a commitment to lifelong giving based on Jewish values. The Philadelphia cohort made a grant to Pathways to Housing PA, an organization focused on empowering people with disabilities to improve their housing stability, achieve better health and reclaim their lives. Local teen fellows have been particularly interested in learning about Jewish perspectives on racial justice, antisemitism, and the community response to COVID. The program has responded with speakers from ADL, Avodah and a clergy panel from our local Philly community.
While the fellowship program is a one-year commitment, there are more than 4,000 active Diller alumni around the globe, including a growing cohort here at home. The Philadelphia Diller Alumni Committee is focused on creating opportunities for local alumni to continue to engage with Jewish learning, social action projects and mentorship opportunities for current Diller Teen Fellows.
The Philadelphia Diller Teen Fellowship program is funded through the Helen Diller Foundation and the Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia through various grants including the Bernard and Etta Weinberg Family Fund.
Do you know a Jewish teen in 10th or 11th grade that wants to step up, lead their community and repair the world? Learn more about how the amazing teen in your life can join with more than 600 teens from around the world as a Diller Teen Fellow. Recruitment for the 2021-2020 cohort will begin in late spring. For more information, visit jewishphilly.org/diller or contact Diller Teen Coordinator Darren Rabinowitz at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Diller Teen Fellowship a Game Changer for Greater Philadelphia Teens: Meet Naomi, a Diller Teen Fellows Alumna
“My mom is from St. Lucia and my dad was born and raised here in the U.S. so I identify as a Jew of color. I live in West Philadelphia and attend The Episcopal Academy where I’m currently one of a small number of Jewish students in the high school.
While the teachers and school curriculum has given me a lot of support in exploring some of my intellectual connection to Jewish faith and in looking comparatively at a range of religions, I still miss the sense of Jewish community and Jewish spiritual practice. Luckily I have been able to interact with other Jewish kids through my synagogue and the Diller Teen Fellows program.
Thanks to Diller, I’ve learned to embrace my unique identity, support my exploration as a Jew of Color and work with my peers to collectively make a difference in the world around us.
Today I hold a deeper connection to my roots and for the first time ever have meaningful interactions with other Jews of Color from my community. I am so grateful to Diller and the Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia for all that it has made possible for me.”