Midwest Young Judaea Newsletter Why Did I Start Phoenix YJ? Sarah Tessler

By Sharon Schoenfeld

I have grown up with Young Judaea in my life but not the way all my friends did. They have clubs and year round programs with overnights and events, I had nothing but summer camp and an occasional convention all the way across the country. I had nothing I could drive down the street to participate in. Living through the experiences of my friends and my mother was the only way I could feel like I was a part of more than just the summer components of Young Judaea because there is so much more they have to offer that I haven’t been able to partake in. With all of that in mind an idea struck. It wasn’t necessarily my idea alone. My mom would tell me about how Young Judaea once existed in Phoenix but it disappeared with CYJ West. I waited until I was old enough and could take more responsibilities and more action and I started my very own Young Judaea club in metropolitan Phoenix. I want to give kids in my area the chance to be a part of this life altering youth organization that is all about zionism, peer leadership, pluralism, Jewish identity, and social action. Around here all most kids know is NFTY and BBYO. Young Judaea doesn’t have a voice here. That’s why it was so important to me to bring YJ back to the valley so it can thrive again like it once did.

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