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Philanthropic and Leadership Opportunities

Iris Teen Tzedakah

Iris Teen Tzedakah is a one-year program open to high schoolers in grades 9-10 that focuses on philanthropy, Jewish education, and leadership. Iris Advisors (that’s what we call the teen participants) will explore how our Greater MetroWest community responds to people in need locally, globally, and in Israel.

As an Iris Advisor you will contribute $250 of your own money into a fund. Those funds will be matched by the Herb & Milly Iris Youth and Family Philanthropy Endowment. Your cohort will oversee this fund of several thousand dollars, deciding how to allocate the money to organizations and needs based on what you learn and experience over the course of the program. This includes taking part in important interactions with Jewish community leaders, philanthropists, and experts who will teach you about our community and the values and traditions of Jewish giving.

The Iris Teen Advisors meet on average once a month at the Federation campus at 901 Route 10 East in Whippany, NJ for two hours on weeknights (occasional sessions may be held at the JCCs in West Orange and Scotch Plains). In addition, there is one overnight program early in the year to help strengthen the relationships among the Advisors and to build their team working skills.

Your participation in Iris Teen Tzedakah will give you unique exposure to:

Social action through Judaism

  • Immerse yourself into the world of Jewish teen philanthropy.  Learn about Jewish solidarity and communal responsibility.
  • Take an active role in your community’s welfare by deciding how to allocate significant funds to Jewish causes and projects.
  • Dive into deep discussions on Jewish values related to Tzedakah.

Leadership development through 21st Century Skills utilizing the Five C’s of Iris:

  • Critical Thinking – Decide actual philanthropic allocations. Perform hands-on simulations. Make tough decisions.
  • Creativity – Leadership Empowerment.  Respond to thought experiments and dilemmas
  • Communication – Community Involvement.  Deliberative discussions.
  • Collaboration – Group decision making.  Fund management of a joint pool.  Team building.
  • Connection to the Jewish community
  • Discover the wealth of organizations that exist to empower, protect, and serve the Jewish community and wider world.
  • Become connected to other JTEEN-GMW opportunities, including Iris Teen Mitzvot (a continuation program exclusively for Iris Teen Tzedakah alumni) below.



The Justice League is an elite cadre of seven teens who are empowered to lead the charge in advocating for social justice within a Jewish Service Learning context. Justice League members engage in this year-long term of service which enriches them academically, professionally, and spiritually while simultaneously positioning them as a beacon of tzedek (justice) for our community by organizing and leading local Jewish service-learning events. Each Justice League squad includes a veteran Justice Leaguer who serves as the Chief Justice and secretary.  (And yes – they wear capes.)

Throughout the school year, the Justice League members participate in immersive conversations, discussing the root causes of societal problems, contemporary injustices, issues facing the Jewish community, Jewish values, and approaches to justice, and how to make an impact in a serious, sustainable way.  These cape-wearing ambassadors of social justice through Judaism interact and impact over 600 teens through their leadership roles.

Never shying away from a challenge, the members of the Justice League choose controversial and difficult social justice topics to find the Jewish perspective on for their research presentations. Topics have included the Syrian refugee crisis, the assimilation of Yemeni Jews, environmental degradation, homelessness, and freedom of information.  As they are learners and not experts, their talks are framed as conversation starters, sparking rigorous dialogue and debate when presented at their graduation ceremony.

Becoming a Justice League member is by invitation only to former participants of previous JTEEN-GMW programs.

Additional Federation teen leadership programs include: Diller Teen Fellows, Israel Engagement Fellowship, and Here.Now.GMW