Starting a Trend

Arik Einstein Z’L an influential Israeli musician passed away suddenly last week. I remember at a young age while studying at Solomon Schechter Academy, in Montreal, a song he wrote about idealism and working together entitled “Ani V-Ata” ­– You and I: “Together, we can change the world / together, others will follow / others have said this before me / it does not matter, together, we can change the world.|

Two weeks ago, I travelled to Poltava, Ukraine, to speak at a seminar for Ukrainian youth directors about teen programs, how to empower teenagers to take on initiatives and local programs, and about a partnership with BBYO. I was invited to speak by Alla Magas, the youth director at Beit Dan, Kharkov’s JCC. Alla and I have been working tirelessly to help develop teen clubs throughout Ukraine.

I am always impressed by the devotion of staff members in Jewish communities. People that work for non-profits are known for working long hours and are devoted past their remuneration. These youth directors, from large and small cities throughout Ukraine, heard the call about forming strong teen programs in their communities. Those communities that did not have teen programs declared that they would now start them. Those communities that did have teen programs announced that it was time to empower their teenagers to become teen leaders.

The best example, occurred the next day. The youth director from Sumy, a city of approximately 300,000 people, organized their first Teen Shabbat event. With only one day of planning, they put together a small but significant program.

By Sunday, they already had their first teen madrichim (leaders) meeting.

Alla and I might be the faces in Ukraine but JDC and its partner BBYO are leading together to change the world. And yes, like Einstein famously sang, together, with us, others are following.  

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This year, we are trying to connect Jewish teenagers, like those in Sumy, in Ukraine to each other through seminars and retreats and to BBYO international. Every week, I will be showcasing a different community and their teen club. Help us strengthen the Jewish world by connecting Jewish teens to one another. Learn more by clicking on the following link.

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