The Diller “Recipe” for Leadership

Posted on 03/10/2023 @ 05:00 AM

Tags: Diller Teen Fellows, Teen Education & Engagement

How do you make leaders? Everyone wishes they had the recipe.
Well, the Diller Teen Fellows program has been making leaders for 10 years here in Miami, and many more nationally and internationally, so they obviously have a good recipe!
The Diller Teen Fellows program was established in San Francisco, California, by the Helen Diller Family Foundation and the inaugural cohort was launched in San Francisco in 1998. Since then, the program has expanded to include 16 partnerships and 32 participating communities across the globe in seven countries and on six different continents.
Their motto is:


Today, Diller Teen Fellows is recognized as a premier leadership development program for Jewish teens that also provides a unique model for experiencing Jewish pluralism and Peoplehood. The program has graduated over 5,800 alumni- leaders actively engaged in improving the future of their communities, Israel, and the Jewish people.
Also college admissions counselors love the Diller program because it is a selective Fellowship and effective course in leadership training.
Recently, our own Diller Miami Cohort 10, composed of twenty 10th and 11th grade students from across the denominational spectrum and throughout Miami-Dade County, spent the weekend learning and growing as leaders and Jews in their “Leadership Shabbaton.”
At the Jewish Identity Shabbaton in November, a traditional student that goes to a community day school was, for the first time, exposed to a female Rabbi, since Rabbi Efrat Zarren-Zohar (CAJE’s Executive Director) was able to participate in that first Shabbaton with our Dillers along with her husband, Avi.
This student had a positive interaction with Rabbi Efrat and at the recent Leadership Shabbaton, she applied some of the strategies and skills Rabbi Efrat had used to explain blessings and prayers. In addition, this Diller Fellow created a Sephardic siddur just for this Diller group and modeled the style she saw and learned from Rabbi Efrat by explaining the prayers and her connection to them.
This is just one an example of how our Diller Teens created content and activities for the recent Leadership Identity Shabbaton.
The Fellows were placed in “committees” where they were tasked with planning the programming that would make up the weekend. This included pluralistic Shabbat experiences, team building activities, and social programs.
The teens worked together to navigate different communication styles, busy schedules, and time constraints. At the Shabbaton, they had the opportunity to put into action all the lessons they have learned so far in their Diller journey.
Sometimes, even with good intentions, not all the Fellows shine in what they produce for the group. Diller is a program designed to help the Fellows experiment with successes as well as failures.
For example, at the recent Leadership Shabbaton, one group did not prepare their activity well, which everyone present realized right away.
Our Diller coordinator, Ashley Schulman, gives the students the skills and space to practice their leadership, public speaking, facilitation, and planning, and sometimes they even learn more from their failures, which was the case for this particular group.
The Leadership Shabbaton provides a safe space for the Fellows to practice planning and running programming in front of the group. Together, they reflect on their strengths and what aspects of their leadership still need to be nurtured.
We are very proud of everything that our Fellows accomplished!
A highlight of the weekend was a camp-wide “Capture the Flag” game on Saturday night led by the Fellows in the Social Committee, who did an amazing job leading their peers through a fun and engaging experience.

Recruitment for the Diller Teen Fellows program
will be opening in early Spring.

If you are or know of a rising 10th or 11th grader who is interested in the program, please reach out to Ashley Schulman
Check out our website and our Instagram @Dillermiami for updates on when applications open!