Peer relationships are incredibly important to teens, and the content of those relationships is formative to their connections to their own Jewish identity and community. Research from the Cohen Center at Brandeis University validates the relevance of understanding teen development to Jewish identity formation, and focuses on the “6Cs”:
- Competence: Positive view of one’s ability to achieve in various areas, including social, cognitive and emotional.
- Confidence: An internal sense of overall positive self-worth.
- Connection: Positive bonds and development of relationships with peers, family, school, and community.
- Caring: A sense of sympathy and empathy for others.
- Character: Respect for norms and standards of acceptable behavior, morality and integrity.
- Contribution: The desire to positively influence one’s family, community, and society
Understanding the significant opportunity to positively impact teen’s Jewish identity development and commitment to Jewish community, the Samis Foundation made an increased commitment starting in 2016 to teen engagement and developing a meaningful connection between Seattle teens and Israel. While this work continues to evolve, our early investments in this space have focused on a few key areas:
- Encouraging and supporting more teens to go to Israel on educational experiences. Our hope is that the Foundation’s support can encourage more families to consider sending their teens for a high school Israel experience, and remove the financial barriers to doing so. We believe it’s valuable for teens to go to Israel before a potential Birthright experience in college;
- Supporting teens to be active agents in the world, making positive change today while developing skills and values they will use throughout their lives; and
- Creating a diverse, rich and meaningful menu of opportunities for Jewish teens to continue their learning and social engagement regardless of background or prior Jewish educational experience.
The following opportunities are supported by the Samis Foundation.
Local Seattle Experiences
- Stand With Us — High School Internship
- Stand with Us — Teen Leadership Council
- Jewish Teen Funders Network — Giving Initiative for Teens (GIFT), through the SJCC.
- Friendship Circle — Jewish Action in Motion (JAM)
- Israeli American Council — Student Leadership Program.
Seattle Trips to Israel
- Alexander Muss High School in Israel (AMHSI) — one semester long residential high school program in Israel. The Samis Foundation funding, in partnership with a national funder, means the semester in Israel is free for Washington State teens.
- Camp Kalsman — A summer trip to Israel for teens entering 11th grade. Samis Foundation funding covers half the cost of the trip.
- NCSY — Jewish Student Union (JSU) trip to Israel for public school teens. Samis Foundation funding provides a voucher to lower the cost of this trip.
- Jewish Federation of Greater Seattle’s Samis Israel Experience Voucher. This funding incentivises teens to participate in a summer Israel experience by providing a voucher to lower the cost of these trips. (Not need-based)
- Scholarships (need-based) to any other Jewish teen Israel experience through the Jewish Federation of Greater Seattle. See a list of the eligible programs here, and scholarship information here.