LaNasi Fall 2012
We all have our own USY story: our own first events, late nights, and our own inside jokes. Sometimes, it may feel like no one can understand the feeling we have except other USYers; and that’s why we share our stories. We post on the group “You know you’re in USY when…”, and we spend long hours Skyping with our new friends from Convention. We know we can count on each other to understand exactly how we feel about USY, as crazy as that feeling may be. So why should chapter presidents be any different? You all have your own stories, your own chapters, but many of your experiences are the same. There are others out there just like you who are waiting to tell their stories: their creative programs, their outreach strategies, their T.O. fundraisers, and their delegating techniques. LaNasi is designed to help with just that! LaNasi is here as a resource to all of you, the chapter presidents. My hope is that the lessons and ideas in here, both from the International Executive Board and from fellow chapter presidents, will help each of you expand and improve your chapters. Whenever you have an issue or a question, just remember that there are tons of other chapter presidents, as well as regional and international board members, that are eager to help you. Hopefully, this newsletter will be a start, but always feel free to talk to me, the regional and international board members, and each other.
As we begin the 62nd year of United Synagogue Youth, I am ecstatic to report that the state of the organization is FABULOUS! Before I delve into our upcoming adventures, I would like to introduce myself. My name is Joshua Ull and just like you, I was once a chapter president! I can whole-heartedly say that you have one of the most important positions in USY’s leadership framework. This year, you will serve as our premier advocates in the field. It is a challenging world out there, but I know you can achieve greatness. I would like to emphasize the importance of increasing membership, educating about our Tikun Olam Fund, and doing everything possible to make USY better as a whole. In some areas we thrive and in others we tend to struggle. Your efforts and successes will have a lasting impact on the future of Conservative Judaism and your fellow teens! Stay focused, get creative, and always ask questions. Marc (the LaNasi Editor) and I, as well as many others, are here to help you! We are serving as USY board members during a unique period of change, transition, and improvement. I believe that the 2012-2013 programming year will be our best ever! From the International level, we are rolling out some special programs: Israel Challenges, Membership Initiatives, Coin Competitions, Programming Awards, and so much more! Always stay in touch with your Regional President and keep updated on what you can do to strengthen the ties between the multiple branches of USY. From Israeli Baseball to a bigger, better, and bolder International Convention, the bar has been set very high. I know that together, we can and will accomplish our goals. This is a joint effort and I promise to support you through this exhilarating year. On behalf of the 2012 USY International Board, thank you and welcome to the USY family!
Get Excited. Get Inspired. Get Involved.
USY International President
P.S. SEE YOU AT IC BOSTON! www.usy.org/ic
Hey, we’re from “C-bus,” we’re Buckeye CRAZY, dial 614, and call us BUCKUSY! I, Gabby Master, chapter president, would like to introduce the amazing chapter of BuckUSY! As a senior, I have witnessed the slow membership decline of my chapter throughout the past fouryears. We’ve had to make changes in order to accommodate our smaller numbers which has meant giving up traditions, changing classic events, and hanging out with the same few people at every event. Yet, I have not seen this as a tragedy, but a challenge waiting to be accepted. We began last year with a tri-chapter event at which we all went down to Cincinnati, rode duck boats on land and water, and had lots of free time with our friends. Not only did current members get to see their friends, but new members met people that they soon could not wait to see at convention. As co-president last year, BuckUSY won the prestigious award for Best Event of the year for our 8th grade intake; we called it “Road Rules.” For this event, we split everybody up into two2 separate vehicles, an old fashioned trolley and a decked out party bus. We went crazy running around Columbus while completing a scavenger hunt and doing wild activities such as skating one lap in an ice rink, a Chinese fire drill, laser tag against the other team, mascot relay races, and so much more! It was truly an unforgettable night and I’m ecstatic that we have a strong freshman class this year because of the success of this event. This year, our board has decided to take reaching out to new members in a totally new direction. During Hebrew high school every Sunday, we plan on running around the atrium decked out in our superhero costumes, capes, flyers for programs, and candy. This will not only grab the attention of teenagers to come to programs but show parents what a cool youth group we are. What teenager doesn’t want to be a USY superhero? As numbers rise and fall, friends graduate while new friends just begin, events are planned and old ones are scrapped, every year is completely different from the next. After accepting and defeating many more challenged in the future, BuckUSY will continue to grow stronger and once more be a large thriving chapter! -Gabby Master
LIVINGSTON USY (HAGALIL)
Livingston USY has been doing great! However, in the past, my chapter has had somewhat of an issue with board members not attending events and meetings and not behaving appropriately. This year, as president, I began a program called the Livingston USY Point System. Each board member receives a certain amount of points for each event and meeting they attend, and they lose points for inappropriate behavior and failure to follow through with a commitment. It is the responsibility of each board member to inform our Chapter Executive VP (who keeps track of all the points) when they have done something for which they should receive points. For each month, there is a quota that each board member has to reach based on the amount of chapter and regional events that month. If someone doesn’t reach the quota they will suffer consequences and they’re position on board may be jeopardized if they fail to reach the quota multiple times. Also, the board member with the most of points at the end of the month will receive a prize such as an iTunes gift card. This is a very new program and I expect it to be very successful in helping my chapter! -Emma Siegel
For an example of the Point System, as detailed above, find it here!
SHARON USY (NERUSY)
Sharon USY is more than just a USY chapter; we are a strong community, and for many, a home away from home. We offer 8-12 programs a month that aim to keep everyone interested as well as get new members involved. At the beginning of each year, right before school starts, we do a “freshman kidnap.” The chapter board “kidnaps” a bunch of incoming freshman (after the parents have given their okay, of course) and take them to breakfast and to spend the day playing games and getting to know each other. Throughout the year, we try to offer a good mix of serious and educational events to promote Israel awareness, and fundraise for Tikun Olam along with fun events like a laser tag lock-in, rock climbing, and mystery bus ride. Along with these, we have USY services on high holidays along with a Kabbalat Shabbat service and dinner every month. Not only do we provide amazing events for Jr. and Sr. USY but we have Kadima events as well and a newly added Katanim program (2nd and 3rd grade). We hope that by including our younger kids in USY they will be more excited to join Kadima when they get older! We use all the social networking sites and send out a monthly newsletter as well as making phone calls. In Sharon USY we pride ourselves on having fun in everything we do, and striving to make new improvements whenever we can. I look forward to a fantastic year! -Shira Porter
If you or your successor thinks your chapter deserves to be a chapter champ, submit a paragraph, like the ones above, about the great ideas you have had that have made your chapter so successful! Send submissions to email@example.com by December 1 for the chance to be crowned a chapter champ!
Dear International Board, Some of my younger chapter members are really active in the chapter, but are a little shy and overwhelmed at the idea of regional events. How do I get them to give it a try?
Sincerely, I Love Little Freshmen
Dear I Love Little Freshmen,
My recommendation is that your chapter start a buddy system, pairing up older and more active USYers with the younger and more shy USYers. You can hold Buddy Events every month where the buddies can bond by making ice cream sundaes together at a Super Sundae Sunday program or by partnering up to make blankets together at a SA/TO event. The buddy system should continue at regional programs so that the younger USYers will have someone to hang out with and introduce them to other USYers at these seemingly big and overwhelming events. If they know they have a buddy, regional events won’t be as scary!
Membership/Kadima International General Board
Dear International Board, Our chapter has a couple really big T.O. fundraisers throughout the year. We don’t have time to do another huge fundraiser, but we still want to raise more money! Do you have any suggestions?
Sincerely, Empty Tzedakah Box
Dear Empty Tzedakah Box,
There are so many great small things you can do throughout the year to add a little extra money to your chapter’s T.O. fund. You can hold bus bets on the way to conventions where people bet on the exact time you will arrive at convention. Everyone who participates puts in $1, and the person with the closest guess can win a prize like a candy bar. Another great idea is to have a T.O. minute at the beginning of each board meeting or chapter event. Pick an organization from the T.O. list and raise money for that organization for one minute. One more thing you can do is at the beginning of Sunday school, sell food, drinks, and kippot. So many kids forget to bring kippot and may have not had a chance to eat breakfast. Try it out and see if it works! Even if you only raise a few dollars each time the money will definitely add up!
International Social Action/Tikun Olam (SA/TO) Vice President
Dear International Board, I want to have lots of Israel programs, but they’re scaring off my members! What should I do?
Sincerely, Israeli by Heart
Dear Israeli by Heart,
Israel events should draw members, not scare them off. Try to avoid politics as much as possible. You should ALWAYS have some sort of Israeli food, because food will attract members. How about a cake-decorating contest to see which team can make the best map of Israel? As for other programs, try a different approach, maybe with music or art. Make mosaics of Israeli landscapes like Jerusalem or learn Israeli folk songs. Who doesn’t love some good old Israeli Dancing? There are tons of possibilities. Be creative!
International Israel Affairs Vice President
If you have any questions for the board, submit them to firstname.lastname@example.org by December 1 for the chance to have them published! The board may even answer your questions anyway!
Messages from the 2011-2012 Chapter Presidents
Before they left, the 2011-2012 chapter presidents shared some of their thoughts: What do you wish you knew at the beginning of your term?
- I wish I knew who to ask for help. Talking to other chapter presidents, past chapter presidents, and board members is a great way to be inspired and get help. Every chapter president is going to have to deal with some issues over the year, so it is great to know who you can ask for help. – Michal Kellner, Shaarei Tikvah USY, METNY
- Things aren’t always going to go exactly how you plan, so always leave room for flexibility and be ready to adapt to whatever situation you might find yourself in. – Anonymous
What was the biggest surprise about being a chapter president?
- Sometimes the smallest action, when carried out as an authority, can have the most tremendous impact. We ran a Thanksgiving Feast just before the holidays, and went around saying what we were all thankful for. Just before the program had started, I had been talking with my youth director; I thought that our programs since the beginning of the year had been rather lackluster. He told me to wait. When everyone finally went around the circle… nearly every kid said USY. Some just said it was fun, but some said it was their lifeline. Their escape from hard family situations, or tough school lives. I listened to them, and I realized, even though my programming could be better, it was less the programs than the support system of friends that took part in them which was important. – Elias Horowitz, HERJC, METNY
- I was surprised at how much of an impact you really do make on the region and even International USY. You hear people say often that chapter presidents are the backbone of USY, and it really is true. I didn’t fully realize until I was at regional events and IC that the presence of USYers from various chapters really is reflective of how huge of a role the chapter presidents play. – Anonymous
Is there anything you would have done differently if you started again?
- Put more work into getting kids involved and to come to events. Just one member makes a difference; if they are having a great time, they’re more likely to bring their other friends along. Also, having more involved kids would have strengthened our chapter. – Anonymous, HouJew USY
- If I could do anything differently it would be to trust my fellow board members with more responsibility and delegate more things for them to do to make it easier on myself. At the beginning of the year I had a hard time delegating things at all, but over the course of the year it got easier, and I just wish I could have done it sooner. – Anonymous
Any other advice for incoming chapter presidents?
- Set the rules straight at the beginning of the year. Make sure each board member knows what their job is and that there are no floating questions. Get your calendar set as soon as your regional calendar comes out so that USYers in your chapter can get things marked on their calendars and don’t make other plans! – Jenn Laderman, Ohev Shalom of Richboro, Hagesher
- Have fun, get creative, and don’t let the responsibilities of being chapter president get in the way of enjoying USY to the fullest. If you ever feel stressed with what you have to do as chapter president, don’t hesitate to call your fellow board members and ask for some help or contact an advisor, director, or any other resources you may have. Enjoy being a chapter president because it really is a great leadership position to hold in USY! – Anonymous
In your opinion, what are the most important qualities in a chapter president? (top 5 responses)
A Word from Our Sponsors: The Vice Presidents
What’s Good, Members of the Tribe? I’m Ethan Shapiro, I go by many names, and I’ll respond to any nickname you give me. I currently live in New York and attend college at List College/Columbia University. However, I’m originally from down South and was a HaNegevite for 4 years. Currently I’m your International Membership/Kadima Vice President, but before I got to this point in my USY life, I held many positions, for example, chapter president! That’s right, this guy with 10 toes and 10 fingers was in your shoes not too long ago. I was actually a chapter president last year for the Pines Penguins. I truly believe that there is no more of a rewarding position other than chapter president because you get to see the results of your hard work right in front of you. While it may be the most challenging position in USY, you were elected because your peers thought you were the most qualified for it, and that’s something you should never take lightly. If you ever need any help, please feel free to talk to me. I can be reached at email@example.com. Want to know how to make your chapter that much better? Check out these great things happening all around USY:
- Homemade USY- You can get your chapter international recognition just by sending in programs you have done as a chapter.
- Video Membership Tips- Have a problem? Well, good thing we have various tips to help you out, check out the membership Tips page: www.youtube.com/user/USYMembership?feature=mhee
- USY Speaks- This is still applicable at anytime for any Jewish Holiday
If you want anymore info, all your Regional Membership/Kadima/Programming Vice Presidents, Sub-Regional Vice Presidents, and Divisional Presidents know what are going on. Showing all You Love, Ethan Sherman 2012 International Membership/Kadima Vice President firstname.lastname@example.org
Really Rad Resources
For some great Membership and Kadima tips, check out the Membership Videos from Membership/Kadima Vice Presidents all over USY!
USY Membership Tip #451
What Makes a Good Chapter President?
Hi, my name is Randy Papa. I am a Youth Advisor at B’nai Aviv in Weston, Florida, also known as BAUSY (the best chapter in HaNegev, and soon the country). I am now going into my 17th year of being a USY Advisor, so I have seen my fair share of chapter presidents. In the past 17 years, I have had the good fortune of working with some amazing young adults that were chapter presidents. A few things that all of these presidents had in common, was that they were all very outgoing, personable, and confident! What we as adults look for in a chapter president is someone who can lead the group and take command with confidence, in addition to making all members feel welcome. All it takes is two minutes to approach a new member, become acquainted, and make that member feel right at home. That is why I have been so lucky over the past 17 years. All of the past presidents I have worked with have been able to put themselves out there and make EVERYONE feel like they were a part of the group. They accomplished this by including all members in the decision making and planning process, and at the time of the event. I look forward to continuing my lucky streak of working with many more awesome presidents in the years to come.
HaNegev Region USY
International Convention in Boston
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