Kol HaTnua - Voice of the Movement Young Judaea National Convention 2019 – Camp Twin Lakes, Winder Georgia

By Year Round Programs

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This convention was not my first. It was certainly not the first I attended, and not the first I helped plan. However, the experience of devoting over three months to developing an idea into a weekend was significantly different.

From the beginning of the year, National Maz spent hours discussing what was crucial to Young Judaea as a movement. What was worth our limited time?

It was incredible to see the abstract ideas we had discussed on way-too-long maz calls and random-confusing-brainstorm-documents come to life. Through analyzing our personal identities in different situations to questioning how Young Judaea identifies as Zionist and Pluralist today, we discussed small details and looked at the big picture. We were incredibly reflective as a convention when tackling questions of compromise and biases.

Describing the success and excitement of those specific moments, however, does not do justice to the most significant part: the atmosphere. Convention felt wholesome. I believe we embodied the theme in many ways. We worked to cultivate a cohesive collaborative community, and I would like to thank everyone for contributing to accomplishing that. Participation in peulot and discussion groups reminded me why I love Young Judaea: because it is a concentration of people ready to learn, engage, and tackle the difficult complex questions.

~ Naama Sarfati-Magill, National Bogrim (teen) Programmer – Brooklyn, NY



Young Judaea is a place where I truly find my people in a welcoming, supporting space. I can only describe the feeling I get from YJ with one word: community. It was fitting to me that the theme for National Midwinter Convention was cultivating community. From the minute that the theme was introduced to the convention body, I felt an immediate connection to it. Being from North Carolina where there is no YJ club, I don’t get the opportunity to participate in year-round very often. Convention is the one place where I feel that special sense of community. I was extremely excited to get to spend a weekend dedicating my time to learning how to cultivate a community.

Each peulah throughout the weekend was attached to this theme. One peulah in particular stuck with me. The activity was a simulated murder mystery at Kibbutz Ketura. After learning a little bit about the history and life on the kibbutz, we were divided into roles (some fictional and some real) and worked to solve the “murder.” A kibbutz is a unique community and in simulating that community, it was clear how much everyone relies on each other and how a single problem can affect the whole group. I immediately felt a difference in the energy of the room as soon as the “murder” was announced. In addition to the really fun social aspect of the peulah, our sicha afterward helped me understand the value of living in a kibbutz community.

Convention also helped me cultivate a community between participants. I grew up going to Camp Judaea and attended Tel Yehudah for the first time this summer. I had a lot of friends going to convention that hadn’t gone to TY and a lot of friends that had. With different junior camp experiences and living in different places, my friends didn’t know each other. It was really meaningful to see all of the people that had played such big parts in my YJ experiences come together as one group.

Convention and the theme of community demonstrated how relevant and significant building community is in our world today. We don’t always realize the ways that we cultivate communities everyday, but it is important to learn the skills in order to do so. National Midwinter convention was such an amazing experience, especially because of the theme, and I can’t wait to be there next year!

~ Sivan Ornstein-Luks, Chapel Hill NC

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