Eden Saunders, 16, proudly marches to the beat of her own drum. A one-of-a-kind creative soul, the Cheltenham High School sophomore realized that being unique doesn’t have to come at the expense of community — more specifically, a Jewish community. 

This is a lesson she learned in the Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia’s Diller Teen Fellows program, a one-year experience for 10th and 11th graders that is helping build the next generation of passionate Jewish leaders. 

“Without a community, it can be very lonely. However, when you have one there is always someone to talk to and lean on when you need,” said Eden. “Having a good Jewish community is especially important, because in a world where Jews are such a minority, it is nice to feel at home and understood.” 

We spoke with Eden to learn more about her and what she has gained from Diller Teen Fellows. 

What do you want to be when you grow up?

Something in the fashion industry. 

What's a fun fact or two about you?

I have dyed my hair six colors in the past year.

Where did you begin your Jewish identity journey with Diller Teen Fellows, and where are you now?

When I started Diller Teen, I had a strong connection with my Jewish identity and Israel. I have a lot of family in Israel and love visiting them. However, through Diller I have found a group of teens my age that I relate to. This has helped me learn so much about not just Judaism, but also things that go along with Judaism, like social justice, the environment and so much more.  Diller has definitely helped me learn, grow and connect with my Jewish identity. 

What was your favorite moment in the Diller Teen Fellows program thus far?

My favorite moment in Diller so far was the virtual leadership shabbaton. Specifically when we were planting bonsai trees. It was a time where everyone felt comfortable with each other, and even though we haven't really met in person, everyone felt connected. It was fun to talk to each other, and it has also been fun to watch the trees we planted grow!

Why should someone apply to be a Diller Teen Fellow?

You will meet so many great Jewish teens that you can relate to and you will have really meaningful and fun experiences through Diller. 

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Applications for the 2021-2022 Diller Teen Fellows program are now open through June 25, 2021. To apply or to nominate a teen for this year’s cohort, please click here. For more information about Diller Teen, please contact Darren Rabinowitz, Diller Teen Coordinator, at drabinowitz@jewishphilly.org.