Alternative Winter Break Blast from the Past – Naomi Solkowitz – AWB New Orleans 2013

By Sharon Schoenfeld

My name is Naomi Solkowitz, I’m from Maryland and I’m National Mazkira (President) of Young Judaea. This was my third year on Alternative Winter Break New Orleans, and what a trip it has been. From helping out Ms. Debra in a community Garden to installing energy efficient light bulbs, I know we might not have changed the whole world, but we changed someone’s world. During the course of the trip we discussed the controversy of poverty vs. privilege and the reason we came to New Orleans. On the first night of the trip, we discussed whether we were on a “Katrina tour” acting as bystanders, or if we were in NOLA to make a difference. Remembering the personal stories of the people we helped, we saw how our hard work was genuinely appreciated and truly made a difference.

As my third year of AWB comes to a close, I realize the incredible impact it has had on me as an individual. AWB has taught me how I can come to a new place, learn to love it, and strive to make a difference. With only eight months to go until Young Judaea’s Year Course, I hope to carry this lesson with me to Israel. I know that wherever I go on Year Course, the lessons that I have absorbed from AWB will always resonate within me.

Throughout my life I will always be reminded of Warrenetta, Volunteer Coordinator at the Lower Ninth Ward Center for Sustainable Engagement and Development, and her wisdom. She shared with us a lesson that she learned from Katrina; that hope is what holds a community together. My experience on AWB has led me to always want to be a leaderof a community full of hope and inspiration. As the National Mazkira of Young Judaea I want to congratulate the teen and staff leadership for putting together such a powerful program that speaks so effectively to Young Judaea’s core values and mission.

~ Naomi Solkowitz is currently a Junior at SUNY Binghamton and staff member at Tel Yehudah

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