KH: Do you feel that your involvement in Young Judaea has affected you professionally? Personally? If so, how?
SC: A few years ago I was interviewed for a newspaper article about Young Judaeans in Israel. Apparently I was the last one on her list to be interviewed. The interviewer asked me how Young Judaea influenced me professionally and personally. I started to say, “well you know the book All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten- well that’s how I feel about YJ. The interviewer laughed and said, “I’m sorry Sara. I really can’t use that quote.” “Why not?” I asked. She replied: “Every single person I talked to already said that!” So, I guess there are a lot of us out there who feel that Young Judaea had a profound effect on our lives.
Professionally: Most of what I’ve learned about management and organization I learned in Young Judaea. Certainly these things I learned first in YJ: the importance of “dugma ishit,” how to work in a team, how to utilize the best of people’s abilities, how to make everyone on the team feel wanted and important, how to divide up work tasks, how to utilize people’s passions, how to use your own passions, how to set goals and how to reach them, how to run a meeting, …. the list goes on and on. All of those things I learned because Young Judaea was a peer led movement, and we had advisors how knew the fine art of being an advisor in the framework of a peer led movement. Young Judaeans take that for granted sometimes—but it is not something obvious. It is much harder to be an adult advisor in a peer led situation than to just do the work yourself.
Most important on the list perhaps was the YJ credo of figuring out your values and acting according to them.
Personally: I have very dear friends from all walks of life, including from Young Judaea, camp, and Year Course. On a recent visit to New York I was staying with a friend who I know from the movement and from college. She asked me who I was meeting for dinner and I said “my MH tent.” Since I was in MH 35 years ago, and I have known the people in that tent since we were in Alumim together, I guess you can say those relationships have lasted a long time.
KH: Is there one particular memory from your time in Young Judaea that stands out to this day?
SC: Oh how to choose just one?! Going out to Friendly’s in Metuchen after mazkirut meetings, swimming to Coral Island the day we spent in Eilat on Hadracha, dancing around the fountain at Lincoln Center after the Folk Dance Festival, picking plastic on Ketura the first time I was here, finding out what team I was on for the first “bikurim’ (what we called color war` at CJ, playing “name that slide” (instead of “name that tune”) – using slides of Israel at a Bound Brook club meeting.
KH: Did your involvement in Young Judaea affect your worldview or political views at all?
SC: Together with my parents, I think YJ taught me to have a critical perspective of society—critical but not negative. In other words – to look around and ask: what is wrong with the society we live in and how can I, together with others, make it better?
KH: Did your involvement in Young Judaea impact your connections to Judaism or to Israel?
KH: How did your time in Young Judaea contribute to your decision to make aliyah?
SC: It’s hard for me to imagine that I would have made aliyah if I wasn’t a Young Judaean. My parents felt very connected to Israel and sent me in the first place to a Young Judaea camp (Camp Judaea in Hendersonville – Sprout Lake wasn’t built yet) But, I don’t think I would have ended up in Israel and Ketura if it wasn’t for Young Judaea.
Ben Weinstein, outgoing Merakez Pirsum on the National Mazkirut conducted this interview. Ben is working in Camp Tel Yehudah this summer and heading off to Taiwan for school in the fall.