Born in Israel, Ilana moved to Canada with her family as a baby and has since lived in North York, Richmond Hill, and most recently Aurora, where less than 2% of her high school’s student body was Jewish.
“When I moved to Aurora, I lost all my Jewish friends, which made it hard to find my sense of identity…Growing up in a place where there was a disconnect between myself and the community, Jewish Teen Board gave me the confidence to make my own meaningful Jewish connections and to create my own Jewish identity."
When Ilana heard about UJA’s Jewish Teen Board, a philanthropic leadership program for teens, through a friend, she jumped on the opportunity to make new Jewish friends and gain knowledge about Judaism and philanthropy. Ilana participated in the program’s 2018/19 and 2019/20 cohorts, the latter of which raised over $10,000 to support Jewish organizations in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Ilana’s personal experience with the Teen Board exceeded her expectations: “The Teen Bard gave me the opportunity to speak with with members of the community and learn through their own experiences. I gained so much more than I thought I was going to.”
Sparked by her newfound community connection, she founded a chapter of the Jewish Student Union at her high school and joined her school’s Equity Council in order to raise awareness for Holocaust Education Week and antisemitism. Ilana believe that her Jewish Teen Board experience provided her with skills, and more importantly, confidence to take on these leadership roles. Ilana believes that every teen has the power to become a Jewish leader and form their own Jewish identity in their own unique way.
To nominate a teen for our Teen Spotlight section in a future newsletter, please email:
Shoshana Newman, Teen Engagement & Philanthropy Manager