EDITOR’S NOTE: They are outstanding students, balancing their academic achievements with a high level of community involvement — as mentors, leaders in their youth groups, officers on boards, volunteers and social activists involved in Detroit and all-round mensches . . . ready to take wing and fly off to college come September.
Indeed, it’s been a pleasure to meet these three — Brian Dickstein, Daphne Logan and Becca McDonald, as our introduction to a new series of articles profiling amazing teens in Jewish Detroit.
Got an amazing teen to recommend for our next article (or are you one yourself?) Please send your name, your note or your story to firstname.lastname@example.org. – Vivian Henoch, Editor and Writer, Federation’s myJewishDetroit.org
Meet Brian Dickstein
Extra-curricular activities: Brian, 18, a senior at Farmington High School, is an active member of Adat Shalom where he is madrich (teacher’s assistant) to 6th graders. Additionally, he is a participant in Federation’s Opening the Doors Madrachim Institute – a leadership development program. Rising through the ranks of USY (United Synagogue Youth, a Conservative Jewish youth organization), Brian credits his local and regional youth group activity with building his confidence and leadership skills as a past board member of MCUSY (Motor City USY) and a current member of the regional USY chapter. Brian attends ATID: Alliance for Teens in Detroit (Monday night school coordinated by a number of Conservative shuls); he is a past counselor at JCC Day Camp and he has traveled to Israel and around the U.S. with other Jewish teens via USY Wheels East (a four-week summer travel experience.)
Passionate about: His studies in school and academic achievement, leading activities with USY and following Detroit sports!
Greatest achievements (so far): Serving as Chapter President of MCUSY and winning the Central Region United Synagogue (CRUSY) award for Chapter of the Year for membership development. Elected to the USY Regional Executive Board-CRUSY Membership/Kadima VP.
Definition of a leader: A leader is someone with the desire to make a difference for others, whether through community service or mentorship.
Hopes and dreams: To finish senior year with straight A’s. Waiting to hear from University of Michigan and List College (the joint program of Columbia University and the Jewish Theological Seminary). To continue Judaic studies, to major and work in a field I enjoy. . . to continue to do well, but doing good.
Fun fact: I recently have become a huge Bruce Springsteen fan, even though he’s way past my time.
Reading now: The Turn of the Screw, by Henry James.
Meet Daphne Logan
Extra curricular activities: Daphne, 17, a senior at Bloomfield Hills High School, is a member of Adat Shalom where she has continued her Jewish education well beyond her bat mitzvah, currently attending Monday night ATID classes . Daphne is active with USY, and serves as Social Action VP of MCUSY, the local USY chapter. In her junior year, she was a mentor with PeerCorps (a community volunteer service program) working on projects with students doing their mitzvah project at the Downtown Synagogue – an experience she describes as transformative. Additionally, she has been a participant in numerous community service activities with J-Serve Detroit Project days and through an intensive leadership immersion program with Repair the World Detroit. Attending Camp Ramah in Canada for the past 11 summers, Daphne participated in a Camp Ramah trip to Israel last summer and is looking forward to working as a counselor at the camp this summer.
Passionate about: Veganism, Camp Ramah, Detroit, USY, Israeli artist markets
Greatest accomplishments (so far): Empower the Future – a still-young organization a friend and I started this year to generate inter-communal educational and social empowerment for urban and suburban youth; having maintained my international friendships for over ten years
Definition of a leader: A leader builds relationships with the people with whom they are working and acts on those relationships in a way that’s beneficial to the community.
Next goals: Make it back to the Holy Land!
Hopes and dreams: Depends on where I end up geographically—I hope to either be designing urban infrastructure or jostling my way into Israel’s political landscape.
Fun fact: I’m working on creating the ideal vegan matzo balls.
Reading now: Aloud: Voices from the Nuyorican Poets Cafe, Crime and Punishment, Israeli Women’s Studies
Meet Becca McDonald
Extra curricular activities: Becca, 17, a senior at Waterford Mott High School, is a member of Temple Beth El, Flint. Active with her temple through North American Federation of Temple Youth (NFTY), the national youth organization of the Jewish Reform movement, Becca has risen through the ranks to serve as President of NFTY Michigan, the Regional Chapter. Acknowledging NFTY Regional Director, Barrett Harr, as her mentor, Becca describes NFTY as her “home away from home,” an organization where she has developed her considerable leadership skills and strengthened her Jewish identity. In activities at her high school, Becca runs the peer mediation program and participates in an ADL peer training program. Additionally, she works part time as a tech at a physical therapy clinic, serves on Federation’s Teen Youth Engagement task force and plays softball; this summer Becca will return to URJ Kutz Camp as a Fellow.
Passionate about: NFTY, Judaism, youth engagement and empowerment. Learning to lead and helping others to lead.
Greatest accomplishments (so far): I am my own work in progress, proud to have shaped a Jewish identity for myself that will carry me through future endeavors. My goal this past year as NFTY-MI President was to ensure that everyone in the organization had an equal opportunity to experience Judaism as I have.
Definition of a leader: An explorer. A leader is open to learning just as much as the people they are leading. Leadership is not always from the top, but gently from below, elevating the people around you.
Next goals: Will unfold in college!
Hopes and dreams: To stay involved in the youth world and Reform Judaism
Fun fact: I play classical acoustic guitar and used to be a competitive swimmer.
Reading now: The Book Thief (for the 100th time probably); I just read Room and 12 Years a Slave