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Community > Jewish Life > Teen Programs > Iris Teen Tzedakah Centennial

Iris Teen Tzedakah Centennial Initiative

We invite you, our Iris Teen alumni and parents, to reconnect with our Greater MetroWest community in honor of our Centennial year. As we reflect upon the past 100 years as a strong and vibrant community, while also planning for the next 100, we want to build connections between Iris Teen alumni and current Greater MetroWest teens.

Iris Teen Tzedakah, a signature teen leadership initiative of Jewish Federation of Greater MetroWest NJ, has educated more than 400 teens about philanthropy. Participants pool their own donations — matched by the Herb and Milly Iris Endowment — and collaboratively decide how to allocate $16,000 in grants to Jewish organizations each year. Since 2006, Iris teen advisors have allocated more than $250,000 to recipients they select locally, in Israel, and around the world.

In 2023, Iris Teens received a record number of grant requests. We have set a goal to double the Iris Teen grant impact for 2024 by raising an additional $16,000. With your support, the Iris teen cohort can significantly increase their efforts during our Centennial year.

Please take a moment to update your contact information, sharing your continued philanthropic stories, and/or joining us at upcoming Iris Teen Tzedakah events. This is also your opportunity to sign up to join us at upcoming Iris Teen Centennial Celebrations!

Update Your Information

Allocations from Our 2021-2022 Programmatic Year

$4,000 Friendship Circle — The UMatter program helps teens understand and combat mental health issues. 

$3,500 Jewish Family Services of Central New Jersey (JFS) — JFS Central’s kosher food pantry assists in combatting food insecurity throughout Union County. 

$3,500 Jewish Relief Agency (JRA) — JRA provides food and holiday items for people for the Jewish holidays.  

$2,500 Joint Distribution Council (JDC) Family First Initiative — This initiative works to address the full range of needs for families in Israel living in poverty, including employment, housing, food, clothes, education, and psychosocial functioning and community involvement. 

$1,500 MetroWest Cares — This program provides critical support for Holocaust survivors and senior survivors of trauma, financing hearing aids, dental expenses, medical equipment, grocery store gift cards, and emergency rental assistance. 

$1,000 Afya Foundation — Sort to Save Lives is a program that sorts surplus medical supplies to be shipped to medically underserved communities in over 80 countries. 

In the Words of Iris Teens and Their Parents

PARENT COMMENTS

“My daughter participated in Iris Teen Tzedakah. This amazing one-year program taught her philanthropy, Jewish education, and leadership. As a result, she has changed her thinking to be more global and has also thought about her own community with a new lens. This program paved the way for my daughter to ask more questions, take action, and become involved as the next generation of community leaders.” 

“All three of my children participated in Iris Teen Tzedakah. Through their interactions with organizations in the community, they not only gained compassion for those who are receiving services, but developed strong leadership, teamwork, negotiation, and communication skills. They also built friendships with like-minded teens.  

“Thank you Federation for providing opportunities like the Iris Teen Tzedakah which lays the foundation for our children to develop a lifelong commitment to giving tzedakah and doing chesed.” 

TEEN COMMENTS

“You should give what you can — time, money, or resources — to others in need. Philanthropy can be done in various ways.” 

“My biggest takeaway from the program is that engaging in tzedakah helps many people in the community and that just the little things can make a big difference.”

“I learned that my money and ideas matter, and I can push to see the results of my giving.”