Peter Chortek Leadership Award

Honoring San Diego Jewish high school students who demonstrate excellence in community service and leadership.

The Peter Chortek Leadership Award highlights high school students who inspire others through a volunteer service project that displays their initiative, passion and positive spirit. This award is based on the Jewish value of tikkun olam, or “repairing the world.”


The 2013 applicants were truly outstanding and continue to make an important impact in their community. The following three teens (pictured above) and their projects have been selected as the recipients for the 2013 Peter Chortek Leadership Award.

Above from left to right: Ari, Hand Up Youth Food Pantry; Jenna, YouthJamz; Jacob, Theater of Peace

Meet the 2013 Winners

Ari Krasner » Grade 12 – University City High School

Ari founded a campus club affiliate of Jewish Family Service’s Hand Up Youth Food Pantry to promote awareness about hunger and collect food and donations for the Pantry. Ari set out to educate his peers about food insecurity, but went above and beyond to revolutionize how the Pantry engages teens. Between recruiting students, teaching about hunger and event planning, Ari dedicates dozens of hours a month, leading to 450 community service hours between all participants, plus 1,500 pounds of food and hundreds of dollars collected for the Pantry.

Jenna Lizerbram » Grade 12 – La Costa Canyon High School

Since music had always been very important to her, Jenna united her passions of philanthropy and music to create YouthJamz when she was 13 years old. Her organization holds annual benefit concerts to raise funds to start music programs for underprivileged children around the world who do not have access to music education. Since 2010, YouthJamz has hosted four concerts and established and funded music programs for 800 children in San Diego, India and the Congo.

Jacob Gardenswartz » Grade 12 – Francis Parker School

Jacob helped to launch “Theater of Peace,” a program that uses short skits to educate elementary, middle and high school students about bullying. Pursuing tolerance and acceptance motivated Jacob to educate students to treat others with respect and kindness. Even going as far as sharing personal experiences, Jacob and his peer student performers explain bullying and provide tips for intervening in negative situations. In only two years, Theater of Peace has performed at over 200 assemblies and reached over 2,000 students across San Diego.

2014 Applicants

The 2014 application will be available in the fall of 2014. There will be a maximum of three award winners who will each receive $3600, plus $1800 to give to charity through a JCF donor advised fund.

Applicants may nominate themselves, or be nominated by educators, community leaders, youth directors, or others who are knowledgeable about their project and their involvement in the community. Family members may not nominate. One reference is required.

Criteria for award: