Young Judaea National Mazkirut (Teen Board) 2018-2019
Evan Ressel Plainview, New York
Shalom Young Judaea! My name is Evan Ressel and I am incredibly excited to serve as your 2018-2019 National Mazkir. I am 17 years old and live in Plainview, New York. I was first exposed to Young Judaea when a group from my synagogue toured Camp Young Judaea (CYJ) Sprout Lake. After that tour and my first summer, I fell in love with camp and the movement. I attended CYJ Sprout Lake for four years, Camp Tel Yehudah for three years, and took part in the H+ program at CYJ Sprout Lake. As soon as I was eligible, I began participating in Young Judaea Year-Round programs. I was honored to serve as the 2016-2017 Long Island/New York City AVP and then as 2017-2018 Long Island/New York City Mazkir. In my home community, I belong to Midway Jewish Center, where I attend numerous youth programs and volunteer as a madrich in the religious school.
This past summer I was as an Offarim counselor at CYJ Sprout Lake. In addition, I spent two weeks as a Szarvas Fellow at the Szarvas international camp for Jewish teens in Hungary and a week of Spanish immersion in Chile.
During the 2016-2017 school year, I attended Alexander Muss High School in Israel for two months. While there, I took a comprehensive History of Israel experiential learning course and was exposed to the diversity of the Jewish community living in Israel. I hope to be back very soon with Young Judaea’s Year Course!
My goals this year are to sustain the growth Young Judaea has seen in the last few years and further strengthen alumni relations. I hope to set up a network for recent alumni. This can be useful for alumni entering college to connect with other Judaeans at the college they attend or who live close by. I hope to harness the experiences and knowledge of Young Judaea alumni to inform and inspire current chanichim about Young Judaea as a whole and how they can find their place in the world through Young Judaea. Our entire National Mazkirut is working diligently with the staff to plan and execute an impactful AWB in Puerto Rico in December 2018 and National Convention in February 2019. Finally, I will lead the National Mazkirut in supporting the regions to help them grow and thrive.
After high school, I plan to study public health. My experiences at Young Judaea have given me a global perspective and I am passionate about equal access to adequate health care and health education services around the world so people can live longer, healthier, and happier lives.
Something unique that I bring to the mazkirut is my passion and extensive knowledge of all things cereal, especially frosted mini wheats. In all seriousness, with my incessant optimism, organizational skills, and a “get things done” attitude I look forward to a great year of fun and impact with the rest of the National Mazkirut.
Ben Wertheim New York, NY
Shalom Young Judaea! My name is Ben Wertheim, I am 17 years old from New York City, and I am beyond blessed to represent you as National Administrative Vice President (AVP) this year. I attended Camp Young Judaea Sprout Lake for six years and Tel Yehudah for three. I also served as the Long Island New York City AVP from 2017-2018. Within my home community, I belong to the conservative Brotherhood Synagogue. I attend Shabbat and holiday services and do volunteer work with them often.
Additionally, Israel plays a great role in my life. I have many friends and camp counselors who live there. I have only been there twice. However I have felt deep connections both times, from the Western Wall to Yad Vashem, to even the old city of Tel Aviv. I plan on exploring these connections further on Young Judaea’s Year Course!
Regarding Young Judaea, I hope to grow the movement. There are so many people who work tirelessly to run peulot, events, and conventions. The more people we have at these, the more appreciation and involvement we will be able to observe as a community. I hope to run a well-attended and thought-provoking national convention in February. I also hope to work to strengthen the outreach va’ad so that more people know the details of YJ events, which will increase attendance overall. This could also be assisted using a YJ calendar, where people can see when YJ events are happening. Lastly, I hope to provide everyone with amazing merchandise that they can wear year-round.
To be honest, I’m not entirely sure what I want to study after high school. If I had to choose, I would choose music, psychology, and urban studies. I am extremely passionate about the issue of racism in regards to the United States criminal justice system. It statistically probably needs the most fixing in America, and it has many complex components which are extremely important to examine.
A unique skill I bring to the table is that I can rub my stomach and pat my head at the same time. In all seriousness, I think I do a really good job of balancing serious and funny conversations while on maz, so I am efficient with my work, but it doesn’t even feel that much like work because I have so much fun and love Young Judaea so much!
The summer before my term started, I spent a month in Peru. I experienced cultural and linguistic immersion like never before. Although the program was not organized through Young Judaea, I grew in many ways that can translate to my YJ work.
Naama Sarfati-Magill Brooklyn, NY
Hey Everyone! I am Naama Tziona Corinne Sarfati-Magill, I’m 16 years old, and I have been a part of the Young Judaea family for more years than I have names! I’ve lived in the same brownstone in Brooklyn, New York my entire life and spent most of my summers as a child at Camp Young Judaea Sprout Lake. More recently, I have been a camper at Tel Yehudah and participated in Hadracha Plus, a leadership/CIT program. This past summer I worked as a counselor at Camp Young Judaea Sprout Lake. It was incredible to see how much goes into being a counselor and help create the environment I loved as a child. I have attended Jewish school my whole life and spent my summers at camp; my communities have always been intertwined with Judaism. I am often a pluralistic voice in my community. I have been heavily active in the youth movement for the past four years and served on my regional board until being elected as your National Bogrim Programmer this past National Midwinter Convention.
As a child, my family spent a week or two in Israel almost every summer. I have cousins who live on a moshav whom we visit often and feel very connected to. This past Pesach, my family visited my sister on Year Course. I loved being there when all the flowers were blooming and fruits were ripe. It smelled amazing almost everywhere we went. I particularly grew fond of the Negev: the hot sun, the dry air, the vast and empty beauty, and the quiet night. Israel plays a huge role in my life, which is why I also find it incredibly important to engage in discussion on the various tensions surrounding it. I think as Jews it is our role to be advocates for the country without losing sight of its flaws.
I have been passionate about Young Judaea since my first convention. I love the values our movement emphasizes, and the community that develops from them. I have always been inspired by Judaeans’ drive for meaningful and engaging educational programs, both on the part of those who plan activities and those eager to participate. On my regional board, I always pushed myself to think outside the box for events and peulot.
On National Mazkirut I want to help teach others what I have learned, be a tool in their peulah writing, and encourage others to plan programs as well. I hope to plan a seminar which focuses around different techniques (triggers, formats, and games) to keep peulot interesting and unique.
I hope to help the current upward trajectory of involvement in Young Judaea. I want to focus on understanding how to engage more teens and attract more participants to our wonderful, intelligent, accepting community. I see the use of social media playing an important role in this. Social Media can be used to connect Judaeans across the country and engage people who might otherwise forget about Young Judaea during the school year. Online hangouts and Skype can be one way of sparking excitement and involvement in a variety of places at once. On a different note, I am looking forward to planning an intriguing and fun National Midwinter Convention packed with interesting discussions and thought-provoking activities.
I am not sure what I plan on studying after high school. I am very interested in psychology. In the meditation minyan at my school, we learn various Buddhist Monk Practices, many of which connect to how humans act and think. We often talk about various psychological studies or listen to podcasts. I am very passionate about open dialogue which fosters commonality and understanding. I believe that building barriers are inherently detrimental to peace, and face to face conversation is the key to resolving any issue. A skill I bring to my mazkirut is my determination and open-mindedness. I will be a useful tool to my fellow maz members and will utilize my passion for dialogue to our advantage.
Ben Doshna Flemington, New Jersey
Shalom everyone! I am Ben Doshna, and I am from Flemington, New Jersey. I am 17 years old and so excited to be serving as the National Ofarim-Tsofim Programmer for the 2018-2019 year. I went to Sprout lake for three years, and then another three years at Tel Yehudah, including the Hadracha Plus program summer of 2017.. Also, I was the Ofarim-Tsofim programmer for New Jersey Young Judaea during the 2016-2017 year and was the Bogrim Programmer for the 2017-2018 year. Additionally, I have been involved in the Local YJ club in my hometown for the past five years. Outside of Young Judaea, I am involved in my synagogue, working in the Hebrew School, and I am the Stage Manager of the theatre program at my High School.
Young Judaea has played such a big role in my life from a young age, as I have always been involved with the local club in Flemington. I saw Young Judaea leaders throughout my childhood and I knew I wanted to be like them. Starting with the local club and then with Regional Maz, I have been growing as a leader, and I hope to bring this to National Maz.
My Young Judaea connection has inspired such a love for Israel and has connected me to people in Israel that are now my role models and best friends. This past summer I had the summer of my life in Israel on Machon. Touring Israel was obviously going to be incredible, but doing it with the tremendous Young Judaea community made it that much better. Specifically, on sea to sea (a hike where you go from the Kinneret to the Mediterranean) I got extremely close with so many people and it really made my trip. Israel has always been my home and Machon strengthened that immensely.
This year on National Maz, I hope to help out all the regional and local Ofarim-Tsofim Programmers around the country to develop outstanding peulot that can inspire kids around the country just like I was inspired when I was a kid. I also want to set up a pen-pal program to form connections with Young Judaea children around the country. Some of my best friends live hundreds of miles away; I can only imagine what could have been if I had met them before I was at Tel Yehudah. The friendships made are an incredible aspect of Young Judaea and I am very hopeful that I can help make those friendships for others. There is one unique skill that I bring. It may seem obvious, but I am very tall. This makes me great with kids, as they all like to climb on me like a jungle gym. It is also easy to make jokes about my freakish size, and those jokes often can lighten up the mood when things get a little tense within Maz. All in all, this makes Maz so much more fun, plus people look up to me [Height Jokes 😊]
After High School, I am looking to go on Year Course, but after that, I want to study Biomedical Engineering in hopes of becoming a surgeon. I have, like a lot of people, experienced a lot of loss in my life. It got to a point where it does not even seem fair. By becoming a surgeon and saving lives, I can stop so many others from feeling this way. The Torah teaches us that every life is important, and I want to do my part to sanctify that.
Sara Kasler Maplewood, New Jersey
Shalom Young Judaea! My name is Sara Kasler and I am beyond excited to be serving as your National Social Action Programer. I live in Maplewood, New Jersey and am 17 years old. I spent three summers at Camp Young Judaea Sprout Lake and another three at Camp Tel Yehudah, and I participated in the Hadracha Plus program at Sprout Lake. I also spent this past summer working as a counselor at Sprout Lake as part of their Yozma program, something that I’ve wanted to do ever since I was a camper. I served as the Mazkira of New Jersey Young Judaea this past year and as the Pirsum the year before. I was inspired to get more involved in Young Judaea when I was in 8th grade and I went to an event that my friend’s older sister was running. I thought it was incredible that she was running the event rather than an adult and I wanted to do so as well.
In my community at home, I am very active in the JTEEN programs at my local Jewish Federation as well as attending services at my synagogue, Temple Sharey Tefilo-Israel.
I have been to Israel twice, once to be Bat Mitzvahed and once more as a part of a leadership-exchange program. With lots of family and friends there, Israel is a second home to me. I will be back next year with Young Judaea Year Course!
This year in Young Judaea, I hope to strengthen our social action programming and the connection that our Judaeans feel to it. I would like to do this by creating a va’ad to help share social action opportunities so that everyone feels that they have proper access to them. I am also planning to run “crash courses” with all of the regional mazkiriot to go over our National Initiative, Women’s Health, that was voted on at National Convention to make sure that we are able to implement this in every way possible. I am someone who is very passionate about women’s rights, which is why I am extra excited to be working on this year’s National Initiative.
I am not completely sure what I would like to study after high school, and Year Course of course, but I will likely study psychology.
A skill that I am utilizing on National Mazkirut is my extensive knowledge of pointless riddles and horrible jokes. This Mazkirut is very hard working and sometimes a riddle/joke break is be necessary. That being said, I plan to put my everything into this movement throughout this next year and I am confident that this Mazkirut will be able to accomplish great things!
Izzy Canning Poughkeepsie, New York
I am Izzy Canning your National Pirsum. I’m 17 years old and I’m from Poughkeepsie, New York. I am a second generation Young Judaean so for as long as I can remember Young Judaea has been a part of my life. I attended Camp Sprout lake starting in 2009 for six sessions then went to Camp Tel Yehudah for 5 sessions. I also participated in Hadracha plus at Sprout Lake.. From 2016- 2018 I was on Empire Mazkirut first as Pirsum then Bogrim Programmer. Throughout my high school Young Judaea career I have lead and been a part regional events, multiple conventions and went on AWB. I spent this past summer as a counselor at Camp Young Judaea Sprout Lake in the Yozma program where I was a counselor for Tsofim girls (9-11 year olds). I loved working at camp and hope to work there again sometime in the future.
Sprout lake is where my love for Young Judaea began. Ever since I was little I always looked up to my counselors and aspired to be like them one day. I looked forward to leading and planning activities. When I got involved with year-round Young Judaea I jumped on every opportunity I could to lead my peers. That is why my favorite Young Judaea pillar is peer leadership. I want to be someone that younger kids can look up to in the same way I did to my YJ mentors. My love for Israel also stems from Young Judaea. YJ made me feel a huge connection to Israel even though I have never been there before. From learning all about it in various peulot going to Israel is something I really look forward to. Because of my connection to Israel I am already signed up for Year Course 2019-2020!!! After Year Course, I plan on majoring in either communication management or business administration. I don’t exactly know what I want to focus on specifically but I am interested in politics or business.
This year on the Mazkirut I plan to work a lot with regional Pirsumim on professionalizing all forms of social media accounts and making them more united. I also will work with them to grow the regional and local levels of Young Judaea. I want all regions to have outreach vaadot to maximize the advertising and publicizing of events. This year I also want to create an online store to sell sall Young Judaea merchandise in one place. I am currently working on bringing back the Kol Hatnua (Young Judaea Newsletter). I want to make the Kol Hatnua more engaging and send it out more often. A unique characteristic I bring to the National Mazkirut is my energy. I try to make everything I do fun and positive.
Lauren Kagan Salem, Massachussetts
Hi I’m Lauren Kagan from Boston, Massachusetts. I’m beyond thrilled to be this year’s Havurah Representative. Compared to most people in Young Judaea I’m am fairly new. I attended Camp Tel Yehudah for two years through the Havurah program back in 2015 and 2016 and have been involved in year round YJ and New England’s region comeback ever since.
My friends are what inspired me to get involved. From the moment I stepped into camp I felt a sense of community and ever since then that feeling has stuck with me. The passion that ever teen has pushes me to be just as passionate and excited to be apart of this movement. Every event has given me so many opportunities to meet new people from all around while learning something new every time.
I am very involved throughout my Jewish community at home. I have been attending Jewish Day school my whole life. I also go to my local Chabad as well as serving as Chabad’s president for our teen youth group for the past 3 years. Also, I am very involved in New England NCSY and other local Jewish teen youth groups in the Greater Boston Area.
Israel plays an essential role in my life. I consider Israel to be my second home, and as cliche as that might sound it is actually very true. Although my family moved from the former Soviet Union to the States, half of my family moved to Israel. I have spent months at a time in Israel living and traveling on my own. This summer was no exception, I spent a month in Israel interning for two weeks with a program called the Lappin Foundation which takes Jewish teens from the greater Boston area to Israel for a once in a lifetime trip. I proceeded to stay for the rest of the summer on my own visiting friends and family in Israel. A majority of my close friends live in Israel. Whether that is from Haifa to Petah Tikvah to Jerusalem to Tel Aviv I’ve not only found friends but I’ve found family. I hope to go on Year Course 19-20 and hopefully make aliyah someday!!
My goal as Havurah representative is simple, it is to get the Havurah teens to feel included. Once camp comes to a close not many Havurah teens make friends with kids outside the program which makes them hesitant to attend year round programming or even hear about what YJ does outside of camp. My goal is to reach out to Havurah teens and welcome them to the amazing year round programs YJ has to offer.
A characteristic that I’ll bring to this years maz is my passion and energy. I’m loud, outgoing, and positive. Also I speak English, Russian and Hebrew and as Havurah representative I know at least two out of three languages I speak will be helpful 🙂 I’m very excited to see what the year will bring!