“I want to thank you so much for the Talit Nation Scholarship. There are three kids in our family participating in Talit and without some financial assistance, there is no way that we would be able to do the program. Being involved in Talit Nation is one of the best things that I am doing as a teenager. I have been involved since I was a freshman and the past 2 ½ years have been the best years of my life because of Talit. I know that the next 1½ years are going to be even better. I am on the Leadership Board and I attend all of the retreats and as many of the social action and social events as my schedule allows because it is the best program and teaches teenagers about being Jewish, how to help the world and how to be a leader, all in a fun way. I am so thankful that I have Talit in my life because I love it so much. I know that when I am older and participate in my own Jewish community, I will make sure that there are programs like Talit and that people donate to them so that other kids can receive scholarships and participate in such an amazing program for teens. Thank you again so much for the opportunity, Harrison Boarnet.”
I share this thank you note, recently written by our sixteen-year-old son, for a couple of key reasons – one, to share a teenager’s extremely positive perspective of the Talit Nation Jewish Teen Leadership Program (a program run by the Orange County Bureau of Jewish Education); and two, to let parents know (or remind them) that there are scholarship funds available through the Bureau of Jewish Education and a fantastic scholarship program called the Passport to Jewish Life available through Jewish Federation & Family Services.
Our kids are involved in many Jewish organizations and youth groups besides Talit Nation, including the Jewish student clubs at their schools, the high school youth group at our synagogue, and the BBYO program, and each one is unique and provides a different experience for them. No one program is “better” than the other, but this month I want to highlight Talit Nation and urge you to consider encouraging your high school teenagers to become involved in this program. The people who run a program can tell you it’s great and parents can tell you it’s great, but when a sixteen-year-old talks about how great it is – and really means it from his heart and soul – you know it really and truly is great because, as a mother of three teenagers, I can definitely tell you that it takes a lot to impress them!
As Harrison so eloquently stated, Talit Nation is a program designed to teach high school students how to be Jewish leaders and how to make a difference in the world. In an amazingly fun way, through regular social activities and community service days and three full-weekend Shabbaton retreats a year, this program provides the opportunity for these kids to connect with one another and develop a love for being Jewish and being involved with other Jewish teenagers. The skills they learn through Talit will help them in college and beyond, not just leadership skills, but also how to communicate, how to work together as a team player, how to problem solve and so many other life-skills. As Harrison starts to look at colleges, I’m thrilled that the presence of a Jewish life is a factor that is important to him, and I know that his youth experiences such as Talit have laid the foundation for him to want to lead a Jewish life
I know that programs such as Talit and others are expensive, but please don’t let cost prohibit you from getting your kids involved, because there are scholarship programs to help! In addition to scholarship offered directly through the BJE, explore the Passport to Jewish Life Scholarship program, sponsored by the Jewish Federation and Family Services. This phenomenal program, funded by grants and private donations, offers scholarship opportunities for 4th graders through 22-year-olds to participate in Jewish extra curricular and educational experiences such as Talit Nation, Jewish sleepaway camp, Israel trips, Maccabi and even religious school or other after-school Jewish programs. They WANT Jewish kids and teens to participate in these Jewish activities and are there to help!
You can find out more about Talit Nation and the Passport to Jewish Life by visiting their websites – www.bjeoc.org/talit and www.jewishorangecounty.com, or feel free to email me – or Harrison! – with any questions! (email@example.com).