I’m Kayla Lesch and I am very honored and excited to serve as the 2016-2017 National Mazkira. I’m from Evanston, Illinois and a proud Midwestie. Young Judaeans love their regional pride and Midwest is clearly the best. I mean, it even rhymes.
When I’m not flying back and forth between Chicago and New York for Young Judaea events, you can find me diving at my school’s pool or practicing gymnastics. I love trying new sports, and the more flipping I get to do the better. I’ve been a gymnast for six years and a diver for three. I might not be at quite the level of Simone Biles, but trust me, I’ll get there one day. Until I make it to the Olympics though, I’ll just have to be happy spending my summers at camp.
Nobody believes me when I say this, but when I first started out in Young Judaea, I kind of hated it. As a little sixth grader, I came home from my first summer of camp with no plan of ever returning. Fortunately, my mom forced me to go back, and for that I am forever grateful to her. Growing up in Young Judaea has been the best thing that could ever happen to me. I’ve gained amazing friends and unforgettable memories. Every valuable skill I have, from how to be successful in a job interview to how to plunge a toilet, I’ve learned during my summers spent in Waupaca and Barryville.
When I decided to run for Midwest Mazkirut, I had no idea what I was getting myself into. One day, I was just a camper watching the older kids run around stressed about sikkums and not having enough pens; and then, suddenly, I was that older kid. And there were never enough pens!
I loved spending two years on the midwest mazkirut. But after my summers at TY, I realized how important National Young Judaea is. Coming from the Midwest, I never knew that other regions of Young Judaea existed and did not even hear about TY until my bogrim year of camp. From talking to other campers, I’ve learned that this is the case with many other regions as well. This year, the national mazkirut will be working on changing that phenomenon. I may have lots of regional pride, but I’ve learned that being on mazkirut is not just about making sure that the Midwest kids are the loudest at rikkud. To me, being on mazkirut is about ensuring that every single camper that steps foot into TY or into a convention has the time of their life. Every camper in Young Judaea, no matter where they are from or how long they’ve been in the movement, deserves to have the opportunity to be a peer leader and to participate in year round functions. With this in mind, the national mazkirut this year will be focusing on connections in and between all the regions. We will be mentoring regional mazkirut members and connecting regional counterparts to each other to create stable support for every leader in Young Judaea. We are reaching out to Young Judaeans across the country, from Washington D.C. to Los Angeles, California, starting new mazkiriot and supporting new clubs popping up all around. We are hoping to bring our campers across the country together and to strengthen Young Judaea as a national movement. I look forward to a great year on mazkirut and cannot wait to get this year started!