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Iris teens simulate repairing society

Iris teens simulate repairing society

SIMSOC participants from a “productive region” debate their next course of action.
SIMSOC participants from a “productive region” debate their next course of action.

On the evening of Nov. 14, 28 teens from the IRIS Teen Tzedakah program, a two-year JTEEN-GMW leadership initiative run by the Partnership for Jewish Learning and Life, participated in SIMSOC, a simulated society endeavor. 

At the event, held in Partnership offices on the Aidekman campus in Whippany, the teens took on various roles of people in a segmented society with inequality of resources and opportunity, and in which communication, time, and technical restraints impeded efforts to create an equitable community. The participants then worked together to face problems and create a functioning and stable society. 

The Partnership is the Jewish identity-building organization of the Jewish Federation of Greater MetroWest NJ.

The event was facilitated by Partnership staff and by five members of the Justice League — Emma Rothman, Julie Levine, Jesse Plichta-Kellar, Macy Gimbel, and Zach Kronheimer — a one-year service program for teens devoted to social justice through Jewish values. 

According to Michael Strom, the Partnership’s coordinator of Jewish service learning, the aim of the exercise was to convey valuable lessons about the challenges of effective tzedaka, the nature of inequality, and the possibility of creating an equitable society. Isaiah Kramer, a second-year adviser for IRIS Teen Tzedakah, said the most impressive part of the exercise was seeing “how interconnected society is and how many factors are at play in a society.” Samantha Plichta-Kellar, a first-year adviser, was surprised to observe that people with less “were more willing to help than the ones with more”; SIMSOC, she added, was “a wonderful bonding experience.”

IRIS Teen Tzedakah is made possible by the support of the Herb and Milly Iris Youth and Family Philanthropic Endowment. For information, visit or contact Strom at or 973-929-2963.

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