Covid-19 Inspires Young Judaea Alumni to Give Back

Humans of Young Judaea Feature: Sindy Wayne

 

When COVID-19 hit and I witnessed the economic impact and the corresponding rise of people facing food insecurity, I began volunteering at the Newton Food Pantry, helping to prepare bags of produce for distribution to clients. Despite Newton’s image as an affluent suburb, too many of our neighbors struggle to put food on their tables. During that time volunteering, I learned about Newton Food Pantry’s desire to start a supplemental food resource for the community. In January, I agreed to take on the role of volunteer coordinator.

The Newton Community Freedge, a free outdoor refrigerator and pantry is open 24/7 for all and is a collaborative effort between individuals, organizations, and businesses in Newton, MA. Based on the operating principle of “take what you need, leave what you can”, this volunteer-run initiative opened on 3/14/21 and is being led by the Newton Food Pantry (an all-volunteer run organization) in collaboration with teams of volunteers from organizations across Newton.

As the volunteer coordinator, I set up and manage all of the processes and procedures for volunteer teams to monitor, clean, and stock the Freedge, including picking up donations from local restaurants and businesses. In addition, I manage social media and marketing to encourage individuals in the community to contribute food to the Freedge and to encourage users to take advantage of this new supplemental food resource.

My lifelong passion for social justice and activism and the skills that I use to lead and mobilize others in both my volunteer and professional life are a direct result of having grown up in Young Judaea (Central States participant and Mazkirut, camper and staff-member at CYJ Midwest and Tel Yehudah, and year in Israel with my Young Judaea kvutzah on Machon L’Madrichai Chu’l). In particular, my high school summers at Tel Yehudah fueled my desire to “repair the world” and helped me gain the knowledge and skills to put my desire into action. I am honored to “pay this experience forward” by currently serving on the Tel Yehudah Board of Directors.

Sindy Wayne is a former Central States Mazkirut (1977-81), CYJ Michigan Camper (1976-78), Tel Yehudah Camper (1978-80) and has served on the Tel Yehudah Board of Directors since 2015.

Listen to the Next Generation: Shabbat Message from the CEO

O beautiful, her spirit dimmed

As dawn was in our sight

With hatred near, we take our fear

And bend it toward the light

America, America, let’s live up to our creed

For equity, and people free

In work and soul and deed.

These are words from rising young songwriters Eliana Light, Eric Hunker, and Debra Winter written in the aftermath of Thursday’s events and posted on Facebook.

Reading these words closely, I hear deep disappointment tinged with steadfast hopefulness. It is a soulful plea by a generation growing up in a constant state of attack. An attack on their safety, an attack on their sense of justice, and an attack on their idealism. This is the world in which our young people are growing up.  And yet, they plead. When will we hear their cries? Or as we read in this week’s Parshat Shemot, when will Gcd hear their cries?

So, what is our responsibility as a pluralistic youth movement in this moment? We aim to create safe spaces for empathic dialogue and conversation. We listen and we teach them how to truly listen with open minds and hearts. Yesterday, we brought together the advisors and shlichim who work with our teens, to prepare them as they convene their teens around the country and plan the right peulah, activity, for this moment.

Together, they grappled with what it means to be a pluralistic movement at this moment of extreme polarization. Can we model what it means to honor many different perspectives under one tent? Are there any boundaries or limitations to how big the tent can be? Are there things that are clearly outside of the tent? Who decides?

They also grappled with how exhausting it is to constantly weigh competing values. As a movement committed to Israel and social justice, there are times when we find ourselves in a state of cognitive dissonance. The current political climate contributes to this as we are often forced to choose a single allegiance. Do we need to resolve the dissonance? Push away one value for another? Is it hypocritical not to live our competing truths?

In our daily work, whether in our year-round programming, camps, or Israel experiences, we have the privilege and responsibility of asking these difficult questions and creating emotionally safe spaces where the next generation can answer them for themselves.

As we step into 2021, we wish to thank all of you who support Young Judaea’s mission driven work and who made gift in 2020. If you did not have a chance and are now inspired to support our important work of building the next generation, support us here.

Praying for peaceful times ahead.

Shabbat Shalom,

Adina

Adina H. Frydman
CEO | Young Judaea Global