Ben Hirschfeld: I’m Ben Hirschfeld from Lit! Solar. Lit! Solar has provided the benefits of solar lanterns to over 10,000 people.
Talia Leman: My name is Talia Leman. I’m from Waukee, Iowa, and I run a nonprofit organization called Random Kid. We provide youth with all the tools and the resources necessary to be really successful in their projects and their goals for the world.
Max Wallack: My name is Max Wallack. I’m from Natick, Massachusetts, and I have several projects that are helping to alleviate the burden of Alzheimer’s disease.
Ellie Dubin: I founded Kesem Shel Shir – The Magic of Music. The goal of my program is to bring joy and imagination to children who schools have no funding for the arts.
Ido Kedar: I started writing my book when I was in sixth grade. I think my purpose is to help people understand and work with severe autism better.
Nicholas Lowinger: My name is Nicholas Lowinger. I am from Rhode Island, and my mission is to give new footwear to kids in homeless shelters, treating them with dignity, respect, and kavod.
Skylar Dorosin: I’m Skylar Dorosin. I’m from Palo Alto, California. Project 2020 brings swimming and water polo to girls in the low-income communities in the Bay Area.
Jake Bernstein: My name is Jake Bernstein. I’m from St. Louis, Missouri. VolunteerTEEN Nation is a national youth volunteering platform. We connect kids with over 6,000 volunteer opportunities nationwide.
Jordan Elist: Hi, my name is Jordan Elist. I’m from Beverly Hills, California, and my project is Save a Bottle, Save a Life. The organization is a 501c3 nonprofit with two main missions to recycle thousands of bottles and cans each week and with the money to purchase food to donate to food banks all across Los Angeles.
Talia Young: Hi, I’m Talia. I’m from Lafayette, California. I produced a series of spoken word workshops with students from five San Francisco High schools.
Ellie Dubin: When I think about the meaning of tikkun olam I think about how important it is for people to devote their time, talent, and resources to giving back to communities on all different levels.
Jordan Elist: When I think about the meaning of tikkun olam, I think about giving back. When you’re in a position to give back to those who are less privileged than yourself, you should take full advantage and dedicate yourself to supporting those who need a helping hand.
Skylar Dorosin: When I think about the meaning tikkun olam, I think that everybody can do their part to repair the world and doesn’t have to be a giant gesture. It’s just finding something that you’re passionate about and using that to make a change. And if everybody’s trying to, to make a little change, then we truly can make a difference in this world.
Jake Bernstein: When I think about the meaning of tikkun olam, I think about the inspiration of belief that a single individual can truly have an impact on the world. The problems we see now, those are problems for our generation to solve.
Talia Leman: There’s a quote in the Torah that says, do not be daunted by the enormity of the world’s grief. Do justly now. Walk humbly now. Love mercy. Now, you’re not obligated to complete the work, but neither are you free to abandon it. Whatever position that you are in, that you can address those needs that you see around you, that there are things outside of that, that are beyond your control, but that you can address what what affects you.
Max Wallack: The Jewish community has been very supportive. Several synagogues have collected puzzles, and so have several Jewish day schools. I’ve also given presentations at these synagogues in day schools and have helped their students and their congregants pick causes that are passionate to spend.
Jake Bernstein: My earliest memories of volunteering were within the Jewish community. In second and third grade, we were given the responsibility of choosing where we wanted our tzedakah money to go. But not only did the synagogue emphasize giving, we were encouraged to visit these organizations and see how our help was able to change lives.
Talia Young: I guess growing up I always felt kind of quiet, and like I had things to say, but I didn’t know how to say them. And when I discovered spoken word poetry, it felt like all of a sudden here was a way for me to express myself. You know, if I wrote a poem, then I would be given a microphone and a stage and an audience. And so for this project, the idea was just to bring this thing that I love to as many people as possible.
Talia Leman: Kids are passionate about so many different things, and I guess our job at Random Kid is just to help to really harness that power and to give them everything that they could need to be really successful.
Max Wallack: I founded Puzzles To Remember in 2008 and honored my great-grandmother who suffer from Alzheimer’s disease. I noticed that doing jigsaw puzzles would make patients less agitated and calmer, and agitation is a frequent symptom of Alzheimer’s disease.
Ido Kedar: I think initially it was pretty much an outlet because I had a lot of bottled-up ideas and feelings because I had had so many years unable to communicate. It became more of a process of realizing I could educate others and to help other autistic people. One big misconception is that not being able to speak is the same as not being able to think.
Nick Lowinger: I got involved with my project because when I was five years old, my mother brought me to a homeless shelter so that I could see how other people were living and be more appreciative of everything I had.
Skylar Dorosin: Being part of a tight-knit unit, it created this feeling of self-worth that was so different from anything else in my life, and I, it made me wanna bring that to people that didn’t get that opportunity.
Nick Lowinger: I measure the success of my project from the happiness on each child’s face as they put on their new pair of sneakers. To see them light up, run around, and jump up and down with joy, and to see their parents sigh of relief is all I need to know that I am truly making a difference in their lives.
Max Wallack: One of the things that surprised me was how willing people are to help you further your cause. If you just give people something to be passionate about, they can be very passionate about that cause and on almost daily basis, I am directing people around the world where they can bring their puzzles to.
Ellie Dubin: The program in Israel was so significant because it involved students of all different backgrounds. There were Jewish students. There were Christian Arabs, Muslim Arabs, Ethiopian students, Egyptian students, and Columbian students. It was so touching to see in the final production, two of the leads hold hands and one was Arab and, and one was Jewish, and this was in front of their entire community.
Talia Young: The group of people that we ended up with was just this group of people that I don’t think if you put us in a high school together, we wouldn’t have been friends with each other. But like through the process of writing, we formed this really strong and unexpected community.
Talia Leman: The thing that makes this award unique from other awards is that it’s a, it’s a Jewish family, and it’s a Jewish award, and that means a lot to me, knowing that I have that community that’s supporting me, especially coming from, um, Waukee where we don’t have a large Jewish community.
Talia Young: Receiving the Diller Tikkun Olam Award from the Helen Diller Foundation and from Mrs. Diller was sort of this incredible validation and also makes me feel a responsibility to continue this work.
Jake Bernstein: Mrs. Diller’s generosity is truly inspiring to be a recipient of an award from the same foundation who has supported such huge advances in the sciences, the arts, and higher education is truly an honor.
Skylar Dorosin: It motivates me to think different and think of all the ways that I can help people and that I’m doing my part to help, to help prepare the world.
Ido Kedar: I thank Helen Diller for her generous support.
Ben Hirschfield: It’s especially meaningful that this recognition is coming from the Jewish community because it’s really there that I have my tikkun olam roots.
Jordan Elist: I’d really like to thank the Helen Diller Family Foundation for their help in supporting my organization. With this $36,000, I plan to pledge the full amount to supporting the agricultural development in the land of Israel and supplying food to food banks in Israel.
Ellie Dubin: If I could say one thing to Mrs. Diller, it would be that her work to empower teens is incredibly significant and will inspire today’s youth to make the world a better place.
Ben Hirschfield: Lit! Solar has provided the benefits of solar lanterns to over 10,000 people.
Max Wallack: We’ve collected over almost 24,000 puzzles and distributed them to over 2,000 facilities around the world.
Nick Lowinger: So far, I have donated new footwear to around 9,500 children throughout the United States.
Jake Bernstein: VolunTEEN Nation currently offers more than 6,000 volunteer opportunities for kids to browse through. Kids nationwide can find an opportunity which fits their interest, age, and location.
Jordan Elist: In only five years, we’ve been able to raise nearly $23,000 by recycling bottles and cans worth only five or 10 cents, and as a result, we’ve been able to donate nearly 30,000 pounds of food to food banks all across Los Angeles.
Helen Diller: My model from the onset of this program was that it’s never too late, too early, or too often to give back to the community.