We had a great year bringing Young Judaea back to life in South Florida. The year started off with an ice cream party with the high schoolers to brainstorm some ideas for the year. The South Florida Mazkirut got together a few times throughout the year to plan some exciting activities for everyone. For Sukkot we got together at the Mars’ home and enjoyed pizza in the hut. It was exciting to see how many kids showed up and were ready to bring YJ South Florida back. A few months later we all met up at a Jewish food pantry. This event was really exciting because the younger kids joined the high schoolers for a morning of packaging food for the pantry. For Hanukkah, we all spent the 4th night together at the Klimberg home. We played some games, sang songs, lit the candles together, and of course, ate! Looking back I’m really happy to see how much we grew this year. About a year ago, a couple of us on the South Florida Mazkirut sat down with Sharon to discuss plans for this year, and I would definitely say we met some of those goals. Many kids were thrilled to hear about YJ making its comeback in South Florida because it included fun activities and an added bonus of seeing their camp friends all year long. I can’t wait to continue to grow Young Judaea in our region in the coming years. I look forward to planning many more exciting activities next year increasing the involvement of the kids in our region.
~ Adina is part of the teen leadership team in South Florida and will continue in the fall and spending the summer at Camp Tel Yehudah
Young Judaea Midwest
This year of 2014-2015, the CYJ Midwest family has grown stronger. In December, we had the Midwest winter convention at Camp Henry Horner in northern Illinois. Everyone had a fantastic time, and welcomed the new eighth graders into year-round Bogrim life. The Mazkirut, led by Gavi Schankerman, led beautifully throughout the weekend. When winter convention ended, all that everyone asked was when spring convention would be. Although Midwest spring convention wasn’t until March, it was worth the wait. The Maz led activities that explored water conservation in Israel and our own Jewish identities. Also, during Saturday Night Fun, Maz re-launched the sale of the famous “Oh Fo Sho” shirts. Besides the wonderful peulot, we also held Asepha, the election for the new Maz. The old Maz passed the baton to the extremely capable new Maz, who are excited for next year. Besides the Bogrim programs, the Midwest has been thriving with activities for all ages. The Pittsburgh club is stronger than ever, with the amazing help of Jessica Morris, the former Ofarim-Tsofim Programmer. In Chicago, there have been numerous events for campers and newcomers, including a very successful ice skating and ice cream party, and most recently, a terrific picnic. In other news, the date for CYJ Midwest winter convention has been announced, so 8th-12th graders mark your calendars for December 3-6! Overall, CYJ Midwest is thriving and excited not just for the summer– first session starts in a couple weeks–but for another year filled with fun events for all the campers and their families.
~ Mollie is on the Midwest Mazkirut and serves as the Merakezet Pirsum. Mollie is attending Tel Yehudah this summer.
Young Judaea Pittsburgh
Since the current generation of Pittsburgh YJ leaders became an active core, the local YJ community has continued its tradition of expanding and introducing new programming and families to the organization. In our most recent event, we concluded the year’s successes with a picnic at a member’s house during which we portrayed the ingredients necessary to establish a country. Through various discussions, games, sports, and ice breakers, the Pittsburgh leaders displayed how a purpose, communication, teamwork, motivation, and a defense system are the primary things necessary to form a country. We connected these values with those considered by the founders of Israel, but on a basic level, to focus both on the presence of our local YJ core and how our activities are related to those of our homeland on the other side of the world. Our Pittsburgh YJ chapter emphasizes, through our monthly events, how a Jewish community affects us individually. We primarily target Pittsburgers who attend a YJ camp and most of our activities are either directly related to camp or indirectly through side discussions and references. We also are attempting to cater to potential members who are not involved in a Jewish community and are not sure where to begin and we are aware that some members who do not attend camp feel excluded when our activities revolve around camp and we host general things like picnics, Hanukkah parties, bowling, ice skating, and general Israel education activities.
~ Abigail Natelson was part of the YJ Pittsburgh teen leadership and is off to University of Pittsburgh in the fall.
Empire Young Judaea
This past year, Empire Young Judaea has been active and thriving. We’ve had multiple successful holiday themed events, including a Hanukkah party, where we wrapped holiday gifts for hospitalized children, and played some of the most intense rounds of dreidel you’ve ever seen. The games were not only timed, but the finalists had to pick “dares” out of a hat that had to be completed by the time their dreidel stopped spinning. It was quite the exciting afternoon, full of donuts and holiday cheer. Everyone who came had a great time, and we hope to see them (and many more) at future Empire events in the upcoming months!
Also, earlier in the school year we hosted a Sukkot get together, which was yet another fun-filled afternoon with a variety of fall and holiday themed activities. We had the amazing opportunity to smash apples with tennis rackets (courtesy of the movie Cheaper By The Dozen), build edible sukkot, and decorate pumpkins in the spirit of the beginning of autumn.
Empire Young Judaea is growing, and it’s so wonderful to see both my own region, and the others across the country in their prime. Young Judaea is such a wonderful place to be during the summer and year round, so it has been quite the pleasure to witness the expansion of the entire movement firsthand. For the first time in many years, Atlanta, Georgia YJ is active, along with South Florida and slightly less recently Eastern Pennsylvanian YJ. The great thing about year round Young Judaea, besides the exciting activities, inspiring peulot, and eye opening conversations, is that it’s such a fantastic opportunity to reconnect with the Judaeans who live close to one another. The bonds and friendships made through this movement are greater than anywhere else, and it’s truly amazing to see the impacts that these family-esque relationships have on our daily lives.
~ Shoshi was on the Empire Mazkirut last year and is now the incoming National Mazkira of Young Judaea. She is working at Camp Young Judaea Sprout Lake this summer