Connecting Colorado’s Jewish Teens

Ian Solow-Niederman receives jHub Leadership Award

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At jHub’s Fall Retreat, the community surprised Ian Solow-Niederman with the jHub Leadership Award. Solow-Niederman is the Regional Director for Rocky Mountain Region BBYO. A graduate of the University of Colorado-Boulder with degrees in Communications and Jewish Studies, Ian previously worked at Alpha Epsilon Pi’s Headquarters and the American Hebrew Academy. He has been in the position for a little over a year and has already made a big impact on the organization. Karen Silverman, Executive Director of jHub, presented the award. “Ian has an amazing ability to connect with teens as well as his colleagues. His hard work and dedication to informal Jewish education and the Jewish community is apparent in his work.” said Silverman.

Solow-Niederman was nominated by RMR-BBYO Alumna Gabby Plotkin who served on regional board last year before graduating. “As a mentor and a guide, Ian continuously goes the extra mile to ensure our success”, wrote Plotkin. He has the “ability to connect with the teens by providing needed advice and encouragement and spreading excitement to our board.  He helps us understand how amazing our programs can be when we work hard,” she said.

Rachel Heilbronner, Area Director of BBYO, supervises Solow-Niederman since he started with the organization in June 2016. “Ian is a great example of a successful BBYO story. He was an active members and leader in the program as a teenager (when I first got to know him!) and it had an extremely positive impact on his life at the time. Inspired and changed by his involvement in BBYO, he was active in Jewish life in college, and has since continued his post-college journey in different Jewish professional roles. I am happy he found his way back to BBYO and am proud to see him excelling in his role as Regional Director of Rocky Mountain Region BBYO.”

The jHub Leadership Award is designed to recognize one outstanding leader in the field of informal Jewish teen education who is shaping the future of teen engagement. Solow-Niederman received a $1,000 professional development scholarship to use on the program of his choice.

With the mission of “More Jewish Teens, More Meaningful Jewish experiences,” BBYO is a pluralistic Jewish youth movement, reaching 20,000 members across North America and nearly 500 in the Rocky Mountain Region of Colorado, Wyoming, and New Mexico. BBYO is a teen-led, adult-directed movement, offering a variety of local, regional, and international programs aimed to develop Jewish teens into young leaders and give them a safe place to learn and grow with their peers.

For more information on jHub and Jewish teen programming throughout the Denver/Boulder region, visit www.jhubco.org. For more information about Rocky Mountain Region BBYO, email rmr@bbyo.org and check out www.bbyo.org.


Stories Worth Saving, by Rebecca C.

Rebecca Chapman

Since Kindergarten, I have been visiting nursing homes with my grandmother to lead services for the Jewish holidays. The highlight of each visit was always talking to the residents and hearing anecdotes of their lives, which is why eight years later, when I was told of an opportunity to develop a project to benefit the community, the idea of sharing and preserving stories like the ones I had heard at the nursing homes immediately came to mind. The result: Stories Worth Saving.

Through Stories Worth Saving teens have the opportunity to interview seniors in the community, many of whom now live in nursing or assisted living homes. All of these people have captivating stories to share, from surviving the holocaust, to growing up in an orphanage. Each interview is recorded and uploaded to a website (storiesworthsaving.org) for public access.

Over the course the last year, I began developing Stories Worth Saving using a grant I received from the Rose Community Foundation’s Innovate for Good Program. The process taught me a myriad of lifelong skills, including budgeting, working with people, and time management. But above all else, Stories Worth Saving has given me the opportunity to meet incredible people and hear some of the most meaningful stories.

Michael Cousins was a gay paraplegic, who grew up with a love for music and fashion design, and eventually moved to Colorado with his husband, who later developed Alzheimers disease. After coming out as gay to his parents when he was young, Michael was kicked out of his own home due his parents’ disapproval. After hearing about the adversity he had endured throughout his life as a result of being gay, I was surprised by the happiness and optimism in Michael’s voice as he talked about the current life he had created for himself with his husband. Both Michael’s story and his attitude towards life were inspiring. Because Michael was estranged from his family after coming out as gay, and because his husband has Alzheimers, I knew that one of the primary ways Michael’s story would be remembered was through the video of the interview I conducted.

A few weeks after I interviewed Michael, I received an email from my contact at Michael’s assisted living home informing me that Michael has passed away unexpectedly. I was devastated to hear the news. However, I was somewhat comforted by knowing that because of Stories Worth Saving, Michael’s story would be heard and remembered by many. It was at that moment that I realized the importance of Stories Worth Saving. I hope to continue to preserve these impactful stories of members of our community and share them with many people so that others can appreciate and learn from heartening stories like Michael’s.

Additionally, I hope to continue to expand Stories Worth Saving by including more teens in the interview process. I want to encourage anyone interested in developing relationships with seniors in our community and preserving their stories and history, to get involved in this project. It is incredible to have had the opportunity to take an interest I developed at such a young age, and expand it into a project that benefits the entire community.


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