Lanasi Spring 2012
When I was a chapter president, my chapter was just starting up. It was its second year in existence since its lapse of ten or so years. We had nothing set up, no standards in place, and we basically started the chapter from scratch. It took a lot of work, and a lot of new and innovative ideas. But where did these ideas come from? I would like to say that I contributed greatly with fun, new ideas, but I can definitely admit that having two conventions for officers (Leadership Convention and Officers’ Kinnus) really helped. There, I got to talk to other chapter presidents about their struggles, their triumphs, their ideas, and their solutions to problems. Every chapter has problems, but I can bet that there are just as many chapters that have found innovative solutions to the problems. What I discovered talking to fellow chapter presidents at these conventions (and later in an international Facebook® group for small chapter presidents) was that there were other people out there that could help me, and that I could help as well.
This is what LaNasi is designed to do. 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 the school year comes to a close and your terms reach their ends, I hope you’ll all take the time to prepare your successor. If you will be president again next year, reflect on what you did well and what you are going to change next year. If your chapter is going to elect a new president, don’t leave them to figure things out alone. Tell them what you wish you would have known before you started and what you wish you would have done, as well as what went well and what went poorly. Pass on all of your good ideas that never got implemented and all of the ideas that you take out of this newsletter. Pass your wisdom and experience on to the next line of chapter presidents, so that every year is better than the next!
Hello USY chapter presidents and thanks you for reading the new Lanasi Newsletter! During your time as chapter president, you are going to have questions, concerns, and ideas to share. It is my hope that Lanasi will serve as a helpful resource to you and answer many of your questions.
Personally, I feel that you have the most important position in USY! Without our chapters, USY cannot exist! It is your excitement, creativity, and motivation that will help us grow. The future of United Synagogue Youth truly depends on our hard work. I am here to be your friend, sounding board, and guide. With your Regional President and through our collaboration, we can keep USY strong!
My involvement started in Kadima, and I have made my way up to the spectacular position I am in today. Along the way, I served in various positions, which included being a chapter president! My predecessors inspired me to never stop dreaming and give back to USY. Therefore, I want this year to be “our year of inspiration!” Together, we can inspire our members to get more involved and embrace everything USY has to offer. Lead your chapter and be ready to make a difference. Abraham Joshua Heschel once said, “To be is to stand for.” I stand for a year of growth and positive change. What do you stand for?
Get Excited. Get Inspired. Get Involved.
USY International President
CALDWELL USY (HAGALIL)
Caldwell USY is truly a chapter of excellence. Our programs are the perfect balance of meaningful and social, ranging from a Tailgate Party, where we learned about alcohol awareness and then partook in fun tailgate games, to Summer Camp in January, where we wore our camp apparel with pride and learned about USY Summer Programs. For SA/TO, we try to reach out to the entire congregation. We had a synagogue-wide talent show (where we raised $2,500!) and at the Purim Megillah reading, we handed out Caldwell USY “Tax forms” to congregants as a fundraiser for TO. Our religion/education events are always creative. For example, Caldwell USY planned awesome High Holiday services this year, titling them “The Real High Holidays of New Jersey,” where we discussed modern Jewish themes and how they relate to reality TV. The communication aspect of our chapter is possibly the strongest, with numerous forms of outreach to ensure we contact every member: Facebook events and promo videos for each event, a regularly updated bulletin board, a website, a texting system, and phone chains to attain maximum event attendance. Beyond the confines of our synagogue, Caldwell USY remains a family. At Hagalil dances when the song “Wop” by J Dash plays, members of Caldwell USY gather in one big circle and do the “Wop.” A fun-loving atmosphere and, let’s face it, a refuge from Wednesday night homework, Caldwell USY is and will always be my home.
TBI USY (EPA)
I am Eden Strassburg and I am the Co-President for TBI USY with Zach Schaffer. Our chapter has been through low and high times. We started about ten years ago as a very large chapter with more than 100 members. As time went on, more and more people starting dropping out of our chapter and our chapter fell. There were about 10 people in our chapter in 2006; our chapter had fallen and we needed a way to get our membership up. For the past four years, we have been working hard to recruit new members by using different outreach strategies. We started having a kick-off barbeque at a member’s house at the end of summer. Since the barbeque is hosted at someone’s house it makes the USY community feel more at home since we hang out at each other’s houses. We all cook together and sit around to eat together as we have become a family. This barbeque has helped new members be introduced into our chapter and feel welcomed. In order to get members to come to our programs, our board hosts a telethon about every month. During this telethon we call every single 8th-12th grader and convince them to come to our events and then eventually join USY. The telethon has helped increase our membership numbers, and has been much more effective than e-mails or newsletters. Our chapter has risen from ten kids to over 50 kids in the past five years. As time goes on, our chapter continues to grow. We are not at our old numbers right now, but I feel that with time we will be back to over 100 members.
BETH ISRAEL-OWINGS MILLS USY (SEABOARD)
This year, my chapter has done some pretty amazing and successful events. We have had a mystery bus ride, Claire Sodden Memorial Weekend and “Seaboard’s Got Talent.” For our mystery bus ride we had a total of 26 people come! The parents who only knew the first stop; the USY director, advisor and I were the only ones who knew all the stops. The staff didn’t even know! We were first dropped off at a local place called Pump it Up. At Pump it Up, they have a moon bounce, obstacle course, and more! We then went to a local grocery store called Wegmans, where we did a scavenger hunt, and all the items we collected went to a local charity. We then went to a diner to get some food since we were all pretty hungry, and went back to our synagogue to do gender bonding all night. It was one of our most successful events all year!
Claire Sodden Memorial Weekend is honoring and remembering a young girl named Claire Sodden. She was very active within the synagogue and USY. She passed away right before her 20th birthday due to cancer. This program is a themed shabbaton; this year, we focused on reality TV. We had study sessions about embarrassment, acceptance, and morality. In addition, we did a SA/TO and Israel race. We broke everyone into teams and they “traveled” around Israel and did different activities. This program is always so much fun!
One more event that was very successful was Seaboard’s Got Talent. This event was a multi-chapter event. We had Joel Chasnoff, who is a comedian, come and do some stand up. We then showcased some of the USYers talent. Others could vote for who they wanted to win. All the money we collected went to tzedakah, and we raised more than $300. We got a lot of people to come out and raised a good amount of money for tzedakah.
TBC (TEMPLE BETH CHAI) HAUPPAUGE USY (METNY)
I’m proud to call my chapter a home! When I joined the chapter back in 9th grade, I was immediately thrown into a welcoming community. Each year, the rest of the USYers and I have thought of engaging and different types of programs. Every year, we go to the Lower East Side in Manhattan and pick Lulavim and Etrogim for the congregation. We also have movie nights, shul-ins, SA/TO programs, and ice-skating in the city! We are a small chapter with a ton of heart. Having the honor to have been chapter president for as long as I have has truly been a blessing! Last year, it was my idea to get a banner made representing out chapter, to bring to Regional and Divisional events. I’m glad to say the banner came out amazing! I guess the moral here is that even if you have a small chapter, you can have an amazing experience with everyone in it!
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 firstname.lastname@example.org by September 1 for the chance to be crowned a chapter champ!
Dear International Board,
One of our board members never comes to meetings or events. I’m scared to kick her off because I want to keep them at least somewhat involved. Any advice?
One board member short
Dear One board member short,
My advice would be to first talk to your advisor. As chapter president you want to have great communication with your advisor and even the Youth Chair in your synagogue. Consider holding a meeting with you, your advisor, and the board member. Don’t make it overly official or anything with a lot of yelling. Ask them if they know what it means to be on board and then explain the responsibilities that accompany the position they hold. Explain the importance of their attendance at events. Offer to help them organize their schedule or find car pools if either of these are the reasons behind their “disappearance.” Lastly, I would recommend that you (more than anything) encourage them to stay involved in the chapter whether that is on board or not. In the end, discuss with them if there is anything you can do to make their attendance at events a more frequent occurrence. Remember to talk with them, not above them.
Josh Ull, International President
Dear International Board,
Everyone in our chapter wants the same board position next year and we have a lot of other positions that need to be filled. What should I do?
Enough Mem/Kads already
Dear Enough Mem/Kads already,
A few weeks before your chapter elections, have an informational meeting for everyone who is interested in running for chapter board for the coming year. You, as the current chapter president, can orchestrate the info session with your current board members. Together you will discuss what it means to be a dugmah, the work each position requires, and the responsibilities that come along with being on board. In addition, have everyone in attendance write down on a provided index card what their interests, strengths, and weaknesses are. Explain the importance of many different positions with many different personalities (just like everyone in attendance) coming together to create a cohesive, successful unit. Thus, it is important for everyone to find the position that they can make the biggest impact with. If you run into the problem of having an over-abundance of USYers wanting to be in leadership roles, then create a “CGB” – Chapter General Board. The CGB can be comprised of various committees that work with each board member to have a productive year!
Josh Ull, International President
Dear International Board,
The majority of the kids in our chapter are seniors. I’m scared that next year, our chapter will fall and lose its strong membership. How do I attract the younger kids?
Don’t worry! Although losing a large group of seniors may be difficult to deal with, a chapter can still flourish! One way you can deal with this situation is by creating a phone tree of every teenage member of the synagogue and reaching out to them through phone calls and the Internet. Also, you should have a really fun event to open the new USY year that will attract Jewish teenagers of all interests to attend! Also, you might want to plan a huge final event of the year. Reach out to the younger kids in the community and show them how fun and how great USY is while the seniors are still there!
Josh Goldstein, Mem/Kad IGB
If you have any questions for the board, submit them to email@example.com by September 1 for the chance to have them published! The board may even answer your questions anyway!
Survey for 2011-2012 Chapter Presidents
This is a short survey about your experiences as a chapter president. Hopefully, your responses will be helpful to the next set of chapter presidents. Here is your time to truly share all the wisdom you have collected throughout your term.
A Word from Our Sponsors: The Vice Presidents
Hello chapter presidents!
Mazel Tov on what I know has been an amazing year for you all! The year isn’t over yet though! There’s still time to make an impact on your chapter and get record high attendance at your last event! As Josh said earlier in this issue, you play a critical role not only in leading the board members of your chapter, but in setting the tone for all of the members of your chapter at events and throughout the year. That translates to communication, as well. One of the most important things to remember about communication is how the tone of the form of communication (promo video, flier, Facebook® message, etc) can affect a member’s view of an event. There are so many components that can affect the tone though!
One component of course is the words you use, which is why you should use EXCITING language to INSPIRE your members to GET INVOLVED. The next component is made up of all of the visuals! This can be anything from photos to font style to colors! Interesting visuals also sets the tone for an event. Does your event have a theme? Use colors and images that might be associated with that theme, whether it’s chocolate pictures for your chocolate seder or lots of green for your SA/TO event. The last component is the mode of communication you chose to utilize. Promo videos might be better to display the suspense and thrill that members will experience at your Mystery Dinner event, but a personal message (phone calls happen to be my favorite) may be the best way to invite a new member out to their first event. Making those personal connections early helps that new member feel more comfortable and sets the tone that your chapter is a welcoming place.
Members will notice the effort that you put into your communication and the more effort that you put into it, the more members will be able to see what the event is all about! I wish you all the best of luck in the rest of your terms! Feel free to contact me if you have any questions about anything Communications related: firstname.lastname@example.org!
2012 International Communications Vice President
Howdy doody, chapter presidents!
Congratulations on having the most important position in USY! At this point in the game, you’re probably thinking about whose going to be usurping you, but I am positive that each and every one of you were instrumental in changing the lives of at least one member through your leadership, and for that, you should feel accomplished.
“Select a master-teacher for yourself, acquire a colleague for study” (Pirkei Avot 1:4) aptly describes how I envision the year for the Religion/Education sector of USY to go this year. Religion/Education programs and events, and in general, are best when they encourage USYers to work together to make their religious discoveries. Another goal of mind is to provide all of USY, through you and your chapter Rel/Eds, with accessible, usable, and relatable materials.
I’m always open to chat about anything, and I wish you the best of luck with the rest of your terms!
Jon “Joho” Horowitz
2012 International Religion/Education Vice President
Really Rad Resources
- The USY website has lots of great resources and information!
- The Communications Officer Packet has lots of good advice on improving your communication strategies.
- Need to be put on the listserv: join here.
- Want some fun communication games to play with your board? Here they are!
- Get some help creating a chapter newsletter!
- Group Texting servers: GroupMe Pulse
- Find more resources here!
- Do you find yourself lost during Tefillot and wish you had a better handle on some of the traditional tunes? Here’s one quick resource, helpful to both Rel/Ed VPs and every USYer. Learn how to daven online with SiddurAudio! Siddur Audio provides MP3 files of traditional Nusach.
- The Heschel Honor Society page: click on the link to the right recertify your membership or join the club!
- A number of creative Tefillah outlines: if you have any you’d like to add, please send them to Amy Dorsch.
- A fantastic D’var Torah bank: please submit your own Divrei Torah to Amy Dorsch and she will post them!
- IGB projects from previous years such as the “JewTube“, a video series on how to do certain Jewish rituals (both for weekday and holidays!) and iDaven, a series of audio clips of USY “Ruach” songs and Shabbat Zemirot … and more!
- A sample Rel/Ed VP officer packet courtesy of Hanegev Regional Board 2011-12
- For a complete list of resources, check here.
Get Inspired: Leadership Quotes
Get inspired by these famous quotes about what makes for great leadership!
“Absolute identity with one’s cause is the first and great condition of successful leadership.”
“If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader.”
-John Quincy Adams
“The function of leadership is to produce more leaders, not more followers.”
June, July, August: Summer Programs!
December 23-27: International Convention, Boston