I have to give Debbie all of the credit! I am happy to share in the compliments, but the true credit needs to go where it deserves. When it came to the vision, persistence to complete the goal and follow through, Debbie did a great job. In addition, the benefit was not only personal, but also a benefit to our community, benefit to our youth and an opportunity to learn.
Debbie and I are the co-chairs of our Jewish Center’s youth groups. Last year, Debbie decided to pursue holding a northern New Jersey USY regional convention. Time spent planning and reaching agreements between organizations needed to be in place for this to happen. The outcome was a phenomenal event involving around 200 teens representing 37 different towns that were placed in about 25 host family homes. The teens were all respectful and took responsibility for their actions, were inclusive for the younger participants and cleaned up after themselves.
As adults, we always wonder how our children will grow up and what type of impact they will have on the future. I am extremely hopeful as I saw the teen leaders of this regional group completely run religious services, provide lessons to each other and focused their thoughts forward towards a brighter future. Yes, there were the silent hands of adults guiding the process, but they were behind the scenes, in the way of dedicated college kids that also exhibited strong leadership abilities. During the weekend, I saw a number of speeches given by the teen leaders, talking about responsibility and the choices we make that affect our futures. All very adult topics. There have been many reports in the past few years about our children not wanting to participate in religious services. My lesson this weekend? We spend time pushing our brand of religious observance down our young adults’ throats; much like our parents did to us. And as we rebelled / turned our backs, our children do the same. Watching them running their own complete services, where they used different melodies and MUCH MORE SPIRIT (ruach, in Hebrew) than we have in adult run services. As one of the few adults that spent the weekend with the USY kids, I was completely caught up in the process. We should take some of the leads from what they find important.
As I am writing this, I have so many thoughts going through my head. I felt like the proud parent of the 200 kids. I am excited for the future. I wish I could bottle up the weekend to visit it again. I am appreciative of all the help and support that we received to make this event possible. I hope that next time around, more people will be able to experience what we experienced. I am happy for the positive buzz this has provided to our Jewish Center. I am thankful to have been a part of this weekend. I am grateful we were able to host 9 teens. I am ecstatic that Debbie had the dedication to pursue this. In the days ahead, my thoughts and emotions will become clearer, but I still wanted to share the pure feelings I have at this particular moment. Debbie and I (and Rebecca) are tired from the weekend. However, we would happily repeat it if the opportunity made itself available…