The 2019-20 Jewish Teen Initiative Peer Leadership Fellows form a diverse group of leaders, representing communities, synagogues, camps and organizations throughout the Greater Boston area. They each have unique Jewish journeys with varied backgrounds and will be working to help create a more connected and inclusive community for their peers. Meet the Fellows and learn more about their stories below!
Ryann Bloom is a senior at Natick High School. She is heavily involved in NFTY-NE and is on the youth board at Shir Tikva. She works at Sandy Island summer camp and spent the first semester of her junior year abroad in Israel.
Michaela Berman* is a senior at Franklin High School. She is involved in winter and spring track and field and enjoys playing baritone saxophone in her school’s pep band along with spending time with her friends. She is a member of the Temple Etz Chaim community and spends her summers at Camp Pembroke. She also loves being a part of NFTY-NE.
Samson Cantor* is a senior at Newton South High School. He has served on the Leadership Council of the Jewish Teen Foundation of Greater Boston and was president of the NSHS Cheese Club. Samson is a member of the Camp Tevya community and loves to play lacrosse. Sam is serving as a Peer Leadership Fellow through our partnership with The Rashi School.
Sam Goldstone* is a junior at Wayland High School. He is involved in student government, currently serving as class president, and loves to discuss and debate pressing political issues. He is super excited for a second year of JTI and is also a youth board member at Temple Shir Tikva in Wayland.
Rachel Kessler is a senior at Hopkinton High School. She is involved in a freshmen and exchange student welcoming committee and is on the varsity debate and tennis teams. She enjoys drawing, writing, baking (when she doesn’t mess up the recipe) and, of course, making new friends. She is a member of the BBYO community and has lived in four states.
Leah Koritz is a sophomore at Gann Academy. She is involved in the school’s literary magazine, newspaper and more. She enjoys hiking, writing, reading, spending time with her friends and playing on her school’s soccer and softball teams. Leah is a member of Temple Beth Shalom in Needham and loves participating in her temple’s youth group.
Josh May is a senior at Needham High School. He is involved in the DECA chapter at his school and loves to attend NFTY events. He is a member of Temple Beth Elohim and goes to URJ Kutz Camp. Josh loves to travel and is always on the go.
Amanda Noah is a junior at Framingham High School. She is involved in her school’s field hockey and ice hockey teams and enjoys spending time with her friends. She is a member of Temple Beth Am, where she is on the BATY board for NFTY. She is also involved in BBYO. She attends Camp Tevya and will also be traveling to Israel with Cohen Camps this summer.
Scott Palmer is a sophomore at Keefe Technical High School in Framingham, with a vocation concentration in carpentry. He is a member of Temple Beth Sholom in Framingham and aided in its religious school. He served on the temple’s USY chapter board as freshman representative and Social Action Tikkun Olam (SATO) vice president. Scott enjoys woodworking and playing the piano.
Isaac Popper is a senior at Medfield High School. He is involved with his school’s DECA club. Isaac is an active leader in NFTY-NE and loves to attend regional and subregional events. Additionally, Isaac belongs to Temple Beth David in Westwood, where he was the NAWDTY president and served on the temple’s Board of Trustees. In the past, he has spent his summers at Eisner Camp or in Israel. He is a proud Eagle Scout and enjoys hanging out with his friends and family, traveling around the world and playing soccer and tennis.
Gavin Weinberg is a junior at Algonquin Regional High School in Northborough. He really enjoys playing on his school’s basketball team as well as being a member of many other clubs. He loves to read books and be outside in nature. He is also an active participant in NFTY. He is extremely passionate about philosophy and political science and is always down to have an awesome conversation, no matter when or where.
Haley Wexelblatt is a senior at Wellesley High School. At school, she dances and enjoys spending time with friends. She is a member of Temple Beth Elohim and spends her summers at Camp Tel Noar.
North Shore Sloane Cohort
Sophie Cohen* is a senior at Masconomet Regional High School. She is involved in her school’s field hockey and softball clubs and enjoys reading, singing and spending time with her family and friends. Sophie is a member of the Temple Ner Tamid and Camp Pembroke communities and visited Israel with the Dor L’Dor program.
Josh Comito lives in Peabody and is a sophomore at St. John’s Prep. He enjoys playing soccer, football, guitar and video games, and is involved in the Aviation Club at SJP. He is a member of the Temple Ner Tamid community and attends Camp Rotary in Boxford. He is hoping to play rugby in the spring.
Rachel Goland is a junior at Swampscott High School. She is involved in both soccer and track. Additionally, she is an active member of BBYO and attends a camp annually affiliated with the Russian School of Math. Rachel comes from a bilingual household, which provides her with a wide spectrum of culture.
Tate Greenfield is a sophomore at Swampscott High School. He is not involved in a club but enjoys playing golf, tennis, soccer and video games. He is a snowboarder in the winter, plays piano and loves to play with animals, especially dogs.
Jared Kasten is a sophomore at Marblehead High School. He is involved in DECA Business Club, Best Buddies and enjoys playing baseball. He is a member of the Congregation Shirat Hayam community and attends Camp Tevya for the summer. In his free time, Jared enjoys going to the gym and listening to music.
Emma Keith is a junior at Newburyport High School. She is involved in the National Art Honors Society, Gulf of Maine Institute, school climate team and the environmental club. Emma enjoys skiing, competitive running, going to the beach and being with friends. She is a member of Congregation Ahavas Achim In Newburyport. She is one of 750 people in America who has only one kidney.
Amanda Lewis is a senior at Peabody Veterans Memorial High School. She has been dancing for 14 years, five of which she spent on a competition team. She has also been figure skating since the age of 3 and likes to draw. Amanda has spent the past nine summers at Camp Pembroke and is excited to be going back this summer as a first-year counselor. She also became a member of BBYO this past fall.
Ben Nagel is a sophomore at Marblehead High School. He is involved in BBYO and enjoys playing tennis and running track with friends. He is a member of Temple Emanu-El and the Camp Tevya community, and loves to spend time with friends and do volunteer work.
Aidan New is a sophomore at Marblehead High School. He is involved in school politics and the tennis team. Aidan loves to get involved with JTI as much as possible, and he spends his summers at Camp Tel Noar.
Lucy New is a sophomore at Marblehead High School. She enjoys playing sports, including volleyball and tennis. Lucy is a member of Temple Emanu-El in Marblehead, and she attends Camp Tel Noar in Hampstead, New Hampshire. Lucy loves playing with her pet corgi named Chloe.
Nate Samuels is a sophomore at Marblehead High School. He plays soccer in the spring and fall and hockey all year long. He enjoys most sports, as well as board games and other brain puzzles. He likes to read and sometimes plays video games. He is a madrikh/member at Temple Emanu-El and is half-blind after (accidentally!) stabbing himself in the eye in fourth grade—which is one of his favorite conversation starters.
Katie Tassinari is a junior at Marblehead High School. She is involved in Interact Club and enjoys playing volleyball and hanging out with her friends. She is a member of the Temple Emanu-El community and also loves music.
Shira Zimmerman is a junior at Hamilton-Wenham Regional High School. She has been a member of the high school tennis team for the past two years. Additionally, she’s a member of Temple Ner Tamid in Peabody. For the past nine summers, she has enjoyed going to Camp Pembroke.
Haley Zunick is a sophomore at Marblehead High School and is involved in the student council as well as Interact Club. She is a member of the varsity cheerleading team and loves to tumble. She also attends a Jewish overnight camp for seven weeks each summer called Camp Tel Noar. She has never been to Israel but is excited to go next summer as a part of Tel Noar’s Dor L’Dor program.
Peer Inclusion Cohort
Sophie Backer is a sophomore at Weston High School. She is a part of the swim and lacrosse teams. She is involved in Best Buddies, Student Council and the community service club at her school. She is a member of Congregation Or Atid in Wayland. She spends her summers at Camp Robindel in New Hampshire. She also loves to travel.
Judy Dicker is a sophomore at Swampscott High School. She plays volleyball and swims for her high school team and the JCCNS. Judy teaches swim lessons at the JCCNS and is also a madrikha at Temple Emanu-El. She enjoys playing piano and drawing and going to Camp Chimney Corners every summer.
Abby Frank* is a senior at Wellesley High School, where she swims on the swim team, participates in the varsity ceramics team and enjoys ceramics, painting, drawing and hanging out with her friends in her free time. She belongs to Temple Beth Elohim in Wellesley, where she is an active member of its teen community and NFTY. She served on the board of The Jewish Teen Foundation of Greater Boston, a group of high school students learning the responsibility of collective philanthropy through tikkun olam and tzedakah.
Rachel Fredman is a junior at Westborough High School and is involved in Best Buddies and Rangers for a Cure, and enjoys playing field hockey for the school. They are a member of Beth Tikvah and Camp Young Judaea community and is excited to be spending five weeks in Israel this summer.
Harleigh Gastman is a senior at Newburyport High School and loves hanging out with friends and family and playing with her pet ducks. She is a member of Congregation Ahavas Achim in Newburyport.
Anna Levenberg* is a senior at Swampscott High School. She is involved in the I Am That Girl club, peer leaders club, international relations club, is involved with student council, volunteers for Rovers Special Olympics Soccer and sings in her synagogue’s teen choir, the Chai Notes. Anna also enjoys playing on her school’s volleyball, indoor track and sailing teams. She is a member of Congregation Shirat Hayam and attends Camp Tel Noar and is so excited for year two with JTI’s Ruderman Peer Inclusion Track.
Rachel Loren is a senior at the Cambridge School of Weston. They are involved in Model UN and enjoy playing soccer, painting and reading. They are a member of the Shir Tikva in Wayland, and one more interesting thing about them is that they play the cello.
Lily McGuirk* is a junior at St. Marys in Lynn. She is involved in Rachel’s Challenge and enjoys being with her family and practicing her faith. She is a member of Temple Emanu-El in Marblehead and enjoys being out in nature.
Jonah Michel* is a senior at Newton North High School. He is an active part of the school’s theater program, enjoying roles in both the fall and winter shows. Jonah plays on the baseball team and is a very active member of the Temple Beth Elohim youth community. He also has been going to Camp Tel Noar for seven years.
Samantha Oberlander is a sophomore at Marblehead High School. She is a member of Team Harmony and plays volleyball and softball. Samantha is a member and madricha at Temple Emanu-El in Marblehead and enjoys traveling and hanging out with friends.
Annie Overbaugh is a sophomore at Swampscott High School. She is on the high school volleyball team and is a member of the Student Council. Annie enjoys art, reading, music and spending time with friends. She is a member of the Temple Emanu-El community and BBYO.
Jenna Tabenkin is a sophomore at Georgetown High School and participates in volleyball, lacrosse and the Anti-Defamation League club. Outside of school she plays guitar, dances competitively and volunteers at Anna Jacques Hospital. She is a member of Congregation Ahavas Achim in Newburyport. For the past eight summers, she has attended an all-girls overnight camp for four weeks in the summer, where she lives in a cabin with up to 12 people. While there, she participates in activities like sailing, drama, archery and waterskiing, all while being disconnected from her everyday life.
Sofia Vatnik is a sophomore at Marblehead High School. She is involved in Kindness Club (a club she started at school), along with the dance team and volleyball. She is a member of Temple Sinai and the Camp Tevya community. Sofia also loves going to the beach.
*Denotes Senior Fellows.
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