Alumni My life has come full circle.

By Young Judaea

By Miriam Alexander, Senior Program Manager of Year-Round Programming


My life has come full circle.

I was shaped into the leader I am today because of Young Judaea. And now, as Senior Program Manager of Year-Round Programming, I help lead the movement that shaped me.

As a homesick 8 year-old attending CYJ Midwest for the first time, I could have never predicted how the years ahead of me would determine my life’ s path. My summers at CYJ Midwest, Tel Yehudah, and experience on Year Course cultivated a deep sense of belonging to a tribe with rich traditions and fervent ruach (spirit). I had unknowingly joined a special kehillah (community) that would sustain me and support me for years to come.

Why is it that Young Judaea develops great leaders and innovators in so many fields?

For me it was experiences like being a madricha (counselor) where I developed mentorship and management skills. I implemented peulot (activities) and facilitated sichot (discussions) that taught me the value of critical thinking and open dialogue. With that, evolved a messy and beautiful relationship with Israel and a passion for working with the next generation of leaders and activists.

The teens I get to work with are energetic and eager; there is a fire within them just waiting to be ignited.

Our community creates spaces for teens to express themselves freely, feel equipped to speak confidently about Israel in an open tent, engaging with a range of perspectives (and at the end of the day to join together as one kehillah to sing “Uf Gozal”).

YJ helps teens foster a deep, nuanced, and rich relationship with Israel, cultivating them to be chalutzim (pioneers) in the future of the Jewish diaspora.

Our programs encourage Tikkun Olam and leaving the world a better place than we received it. Each year, teens vote democratically on a national initiative focused on a social cause. This year’s initiative is women’s rights with an emphasis on women’s health. We’re heading to Washington D.C. in April for National Initiative and Action Day!

Young Judaea is such an integral part of my identity that I struggle to discern where YJ ends and Miriam begins. Young Judaea is where I learned how to develop my voice, where I can express my truths, and where I feel most authentically myself.

YJ helped me embrace my namesake–Miriam–a powerful Jewess who led through song and dance, the two spaces in YJ that bring me the most joy and connection to my community.

As we approach Pesach, I celebrate Young Judaea and this generation’s Moshes and Miriams who I have the honor to ignite each and every day.

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