“I was part of history. Just a Judaean from Kentucky and I became part of the history of Israel.”
On the surface Greta Rothschild feels like any Judaean, filled with love for the movement and commitment to the Jewish people, but dig a little deeper and you’ll find someone who was at Tel Yehudah listening to a live broadcast in the Beit Am of the rescue of the hostages at Entebbe; someone who just a few short years later, stood on Mount Sinai at sunrise during Year Course living at Ketura and watched the beginnings of land changing hands in the Egypt-Israel Peace Treaty- Greta Rothschild’s memories of Young Judaea are some of the most covered events in world history.
It wasn’t always that monumental and historic, however. Growing up in Lexington, Kentucky there wasn’ta huge Jewish presence, but Hadassah was strong. So when a friend invited her to a YJ club meeting at age 12, she jumped at the chance. Immediately she knew this was the place for her, the place where she could grow and be herself. Reflecting on her early days in Year-Round clubs and as a camper at CYJ Midwest (later a staff member) she describes herself as “captivated, involved and connected.” That connection stayed with Greta throughout her life, both personally and professionally.
It’s not rare to hear a lifetime Judaean speak with such pride in and affection for the movement, but it is incredible to see the actual effect of Young Judaea on a person. The leadership and programming skills she learned in YJ through the clubs, conventions and camps so deeply impacted Greta that they became the foundation of her entire career. After 17 years as a Synagogue Education Director, and a nearly full time volunteer leader as the Region President of Chicago-North Shore Hadassah, it’s the YJ role models she had, the peer leadership and programming skills she learned, along with her Zionist commitment and strong identity that stand out in her mind. And like most Judaeans, her YJ friendships have become life-long along with the memories.
Though a lifetime spent in serving the Jewish community and the love of Israel and Judaism are central to Greta Rothschild’s experience in Young Judaea, it’s the sense of belonging and Tikkun Olam, she most values. “L’dor v’dor is so important to me; passing down those values, my love and passion for Eretz Yisrael and joyful Jewish living to my children, that is incredibly meaningful. A recipient of scholarships for camp and Year Course, I feel Young Judaea has taught me the true essence of what it means to give back.”