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My Philanthropy Kehillah

By, Rebecca Driker-Ohren

In working with the JTFN Youth Ambassador Council (YAC) this year, I have been exposed to many different viewpoints from my own. In the YAC, as well as in my day-to-day life, I am intrigued by the thought-processes behind every decision an individual makes, and that intrigue is what propels my curiosity. Interacting with others is what I like most, what I hope to spend my life doing, in addition to making positive change in the world.

When I was asked to create something that described what kehillah (community) meant to me, I immediately began to collage -- collaging is my creative outlet, what I do to express myself. When collaging, I simply go through magazines and cut out photographs or phrases that interest me; my collages are more subconsciously made, rather than planned out.   

As a secular Jew, while I identify culturally as Jewish, I do not practice religiously.  So in trying to find what Jewish community means to me, I was compelled to represent my work in philanthropy.  Working in the Jewish Fund Teen Board I’ve had the opportunity to connect with my peers in order to impart change in the world and create great impact.

Philanthropy to me is the act of giving where giving is needed. Philanthropy, in my mind, sees no boundaries, and this is something we are constantly talking about in the YAC -- “where should our money go?”, “why do we give where we give?”  I have shared my voice unabashedly during our meetings, and will reinforce it here -- I believe we give to people or causes we identify with, whether that includes our religion, our city, or our school. This is why I think it is so incredibly important that organizations like the Teen Board and the YAC include as diverse members as possible, so that we are not blinded by our non-exposure to issues beyond our horizons.

Rebecca (second from the right), at the Jewish Fund Teen Board’s check ceremony last spring.

The first step to making change is discussing, which is what people like Alana Hollander and Martha Goldberg actively facilitate, trying to hear the voices of all people who need to be heard. Discussing kehillah, expressing ourselves through art and stories, these are what spread awareness of the differences that make us who we are. As long as we continue to discuss, to give what we have, to care about others, our kehillah will continue to grow and encapsulate diverse ideas and perspectives, and the impact of our philanthropic activity will spread, making better people, a better country, and a better world.

Rebecca Driker-Ohren is 17 years old from Detroit, MI. Last year, she was on the Jewish Fund Teen Board, where they allocated $50,000 in their community. She is also a member of the JTFN Youth Ambassador Council.

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