General September Message from the Interim Executive Director
Dear Young Judaea families, participants, alumni, and friends,
When I was asked to assume the role of Interim Executive Director in April, there were so many unknowns. Would it be safe to continue year-round programs, or open Young Judaea summer camps? Would we have to cancel our summer Israel programs for teens and college students? What would happen to Year Course 2020-21? How could Young Judaea survive the financial fallout of so many cancelled and postponed programs?
Like so many of us have had to do these past seven months, the entities that make up Young Judaea found numerous paths forward. Young Judaea camps, unable to open for an in-person summer, pivoted to virtual camp and family experiences. In response to the closure, our families donated nearly 20% of all tuition – just over $900,000 – back to camps, with many more rolling their payments over to Summer 2021.
Year-Round programs quickly turned to online activities, engaging thousands of current participants, families, alumni, and friends through Chaverim Online, Young Judaea’s virtual programming platform. Together, we confronted the social challenges in both the US and Israel, learned skills, reunited with old friends, and built community at a time when it was what we needed most. Year Round programs, through the leadership of our newest National Mazkirut, will continue to engage with participants around the US in virtual programming through January 2021.
In early September – three months ahead of schedule – we exceeded our goal of raising $500,000 in emergency funding by December 2020. With the generous help of our donors and supporters, we have been able to continue doing the important work of empowering a new generation of Jewish American children, teens, and young adults. We are continuing to raise funds and now turn to our attention to strengthening and growing our programs with the support of all of you.
Just a few weeks ago, the largest Year Course group since we became independent from Hadassah arrived in Israel, along with our Fall 2020 WUJS Internship cohort. The road to get them there was not without its challenges – but with the help of important partners along the way and the commitment of participant, families, and staff, 225 Year Course participants have begun their life-changing journey together in Israel. Many would tell you that their plans for the year had been looking very different before they made the choice to apply to Year Course – but after just a few weeks together, they would also tell you that the disruption in their lives provided the incredible opportunity to spend their gap year with us.
On October 12th, Young Judaea’s new CEO, Adina Frydman, will take the helm of our movement and steer us into a new and exciting chapter in our history. It is a thrill to welcome our first female CEO, and I wish her much success as she continues not only to find the paths for YJ to move forward, but to lead the way for all of us who call this movement home. I will be returning to my role as Director of Young Judaea Israel and look forward to continuing to strengthen and grow our Israel programs.
As you know, the work we all do is never done. The consequences of Covid-19 will continue to impact our families, our programs, and our organization. Our staff, senior leadership, and lay leadership – both in the US and Israel – will continue in their steadfast commitment to sustaining Young Judaea, for which which I am grateful beyond measure.
I encourage you to get involved – whether through camp, year-round, or Israel programs; supporting our movement, or hopping on a virtual alumni event to re-connect. Forward, together, we are building Young Judaea!
Wishing you all a meaningful Yom Kippur and G’mar Chatima Tova.
Interim Executive Director of Young Judaea Global