LaNasi Winter 2012-2013
As 2012 drew to a close, I know we all had a BLAST at 2012 International Convention in Boston, hosted by NERUSY, the best region ever (from a totally unbiased source). So many people put hours upon hours of work into making this the biggest, best, and boldest IC in the history of USY. They worked tirelessly to create new and innovative programs, alternative minyanim, and Israel programs. Now whether or not you actually experienced the awesomeness that was IC, I hope you could all feel the energy from across the country (and Canada!), as USYers from all over got excited and involved.
Sure enough, 2013 is now upon us, and I hope that you each take a chance to make some new years’ resolutions! Get inspired by IC and the energy across USY! Talk to your friend from IC or from you summer program or even from your own region, ask them what ideas they have to make USY better. Read this newsletter and see some of the great ideas that other USYers have. It is not just international and regional board members who can make a difference. You have the power, and you can change USY for the better.
So, get out those pens and paper and write down your goals for the rest of the year. What haven’t you been able to do in 2012 that you want to accomplish for your chapter in 2013. Think. Plan. Act. I know that if you set your mind to it, you can achieve anything. Don’t wait, act now, because you can make a difference.
LaNasi is here to help you come up with some ideas, and maybe get the juice flowing! LaNasi can be a resource to all of you, the chapter presidents. My hope is that by reading messages from the outgoing International Executive Board and from fellow chapter presidents, you will all be inspired to go out and expand and improve your chapters. If you have a question, remember there are so many chapter presidents out there, as well as regional and international board members, that are eager and excited to help.
2013 USY Communications VP
2012-13 NERUSY President
2012 LaNasi IGB
Dear USY Leaders,
As we pass the halfway mark of the regional USY year, I would like to share a very special message with you. Throughout my tenure in USY, I have held various positions. From chapter to regional, they have all had an impact on who I am today. Yet, when I reflect on the experiences I have had, the programs I ran, and the people I have met, it’s no longer about me. The reason we all run for these roles, is to better USY. But what makes USY better? The answer, my friends, lies in our members. They are our participants, listeners, and activists. USYers are Jewish teens determined to make Conservative Judaism the place to be! In reality, it’s not about the board structure or constitutions, USY is about letting the little guy have his moment to shine.
It is with great pride and a heavy heart that I conclude my final article for this year. At IC 2012, I completed my term as USY’s International President. It has truly been an honor to serve you, help your chapters, and represent your ideas on the international level. My advice to you is to never stop dreaming. Keep the momentum and excitement in USY going for the rest of the year. Help the new kid or the shy member take charge. Although you are still in USY, assuming a leadership position comes with some sacrifices. Break away from your friends for a few minutes and make sure every USYer in your chapter is enjoying themselves.
Lastly, I am always here if you need me. For those who I haven’t had the privilege to speak to, message me. They can take the position out of me but they can’t take away my love for USY. Please always feel free to ask me questions, say hello, and pick my brain … because your dedication is why I ran for this position. So thank you 2012-2013 Chapter Presidents because you make USY the best Jewish youth organization in the world.
Get Excited. Get Inspired. Get Involved.
BIOM USY (SEABOARD)
Beth Israel Owings Mills is a USY chapter in the Baltimore area. We’ve declared ourselves the “Ruach Rabbits” since before anyone can remember. In 2010, we earned “Most Improved Chapter” in Seaboard region, followed by receiving a “Chapter of Excellence” award in 2011.
I give a lot of credit to our board, youth director and youth advisor. Our USY staff at Beth Israel has been outstanding. I attribute a lot of our success to our unique events. A lot of chapters probably think their events are unique but let me ask you, have you and your chapter ever gone curling? Probably not. Other events this year alone include a drive-in movie/50s night, featuring a ginormous inflatable obstacle course and an Iron Chef cook-off (my team has lost two years running).
One of my favorite events that always draws a huge crowd is our Mystery Bus Ride overnight. About 30-40 USYers show up at Beth Israel at night, then we get on a bus, only a few people know where the bus is going and they are sworn to secrecy. We spend the night going to random places for fun; for example, one stop has always been a scavenger hunt for tzedakah run by our SA/TO Vice President. We end the night by coming back to BIOM to not sleep :).
Probably Beth Israel’s most famous event is Claire Sodden Memorial Weekend. Claire was extremely active in USY and in the community; unfortunately she lost her battle with cancer and for the last 39 years we have honored her with a weekend at Beth Israel.
The Claire Sodden Weekend is also open to our eighth graders at BIOM. One thing our Membership/Kadima Vice President has traditionally worked hard at — and has been successful at — getting the eighth graders involved and excited. Our board also has regular lounge nights before the confirmation class starts to build relationships with the students and advertise future events.
I was pretty skeptical about USY in ninth grade, but after mystery bus ride that year, I decided that I wanted to be a part of it. Two years later, here I am, president of BIOM, a proud Ruach Rabbit and I wouldn’t trade it for the world. -Josh Rosenbaum
ZOHAR USY (SWUSY)
We’ve been called Solomon Schecter USY, CSIUSY, and now Zohar USY. Our name has changed over the years, but the two hallmarks of our success have remained the same: innovation and adaptation.
Last May, Zohar held it’s first-ever Israeli Gadna Day with Shearith Israel’s religious school. With the help of three ex-IDF soldiers, we planned a morning of army crawls and camouflage that would later win Best Israel Event at Regionals. “The kids got really engaged in the program; the retired soldiers were inspiring and simple activities encouraged fun competition,” proclaimed one USYer.
Zohar’s most tried and true event is the annual DUSY Super Bowl party. Each year, we invite DUSY (“Dallas USY” – includes all local chapters) to our synagogue’s high-tech multimedia room to eat, shmooze, and watch the big game. Past adaptations of the party have incorporated betting-squares – for SA/TO – and canned-food drives.
This year, Zohar reworked its constitution, giving some sections minor tweaks while completely revising others; new discounts for buying multiple years of membership at a time, new, redesigned membership forms, and new requirements for board members each helped triple our attendance at both Leadership Training Weekend and Fall Kallah this semester.
As Zohar USY looks forward to its monthly “ZoYo FroYo” hangout-fundraisers, the board and I are planning a future of dance parties, gleaning, and Israeli films. -Yoni Gershon
WEST CHESTER USY (EPA)
Greetings from The Best Chester of EPA USY in West Chester, PA! Our co-presidents Jackie Abramson and Mia Leopold and the rest of the board have fun making new friends at really great programs like Israeli Maccabiah Games, Haunted Hayrides, and Festival of Lasers Chanukkah Parties. At junior congergation services, we teach ruach songs to the kids so that when they’re old enough to join USY, they’ll already be one step ahead of the game and having a great time at conventions!
During the high holiday season, Mia and Jackie gave multiple presentations to the congregation promoting the postive messages of USY and all the wonderful things it has to offer. We have gotten great feedback! Through every different and fun event, every convention, and every meeting, we are West Chester USY and we are here to stay! -Mia Leopold
TEMPLE SINAI USY (HAGESHER)
Shalom! I am Marissa Reale, president of Temple Sinai USY. Our goal for this year is to rebuild our chapter and make it better than ever before. I want to change the “timeline’”we put on ourselves leading up to a bar/bat mitzvah and make it forever. The friendships and bonding we will create over Shabbaton , volunteering, and social events will want to make everyone keep coming back. We started this year with our kick-off dance in October with more than 30 people! Everyone had a great time and I know they look forward to every event we have to spend more time together. Our USY parent’s board is great with helping plan great events and love, love, love their support! Our amazing board members are creative, hardworking, and determined to make USY a part of as many teen lives as possible. Our region, Hagesher, throws awesome conventions and dances that give us the opportunity to meet teens from all over! I look forward to what is to come for Temple Sinai USY and know it will be incredible. -Marissa Reale
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 February 1 for the chance to be crowned a chapter champ!
Dear International Board, We raise some money for T.O. at each of our events, and we have had some great Social Action events too, but our board has had a tough time coming up with big, fun, Tikun Olam programs to raise large amounts of money. Are there any creative programs you can suggest?
Sincerely, In Need Of T.O. Money
Dear In Need Of T.O. Money,
One way my chapter always raises lots of TO money while having tons of fun is having a Mr. USY night! First, we round up a group of shameless boys to compete in our competition. Then we dress them up for their beauty pageant. There is always a ball gown round, a talent round, and a question and answer round, just like Miss America!
During the pageant, between each round, the boys’ dates walk around collecting money for votes. At the end, the boys are encouraged to walk around collecting votes themselves, while the judges (youth director, chapter presidents and special guests) tally up the votes. Mr. USY is always a very successful fund raiser, with everyone having a great time at our fearless contestants’ expenses.
2012 Social Action/Tikun Olam (SA/TO) IGB
Dear International Board, So a lot of our more active members are growing older, but we seem to be losing the younger classes. We get almost no freshmen at our events! Do you have any suggestions to get them involved?
Sincerely, Not Enough Freshmen
Dear Not Enough Freshmen,
A fun idea is a USY “Kidnapping” event, in which you phone every potential freshman member’s parents to arrange the kidnapping of their child. Then on a Saturday night, assign USYers to kidnap freshmen at night and bring them to the synagogue or another location where you will “initiate” the freshmen into USY and have an awesome event, like laser tag or make your own waffle party. Also, I think summer program recruitment is a great way to advertise USY for your chapter and encourage them to participate on USY’s amazing trips. Get alumni from your chapter to speak at a summer program event and show promo videos. The event could also be summer-themed and everyone could come in flip flops or NAOT! After a USYer signs up for and goes on a summer trip, he or she will be hooked.
USY Membership/Kadima VP
If you have any questions for the board, submit them to email@example.com by February 1 for the chance to have them published! The board may even answer your questions anyway!
In my two years on the Regional Executive Board of the Far West Region, I have worked closely with a number of Chapter Presidents – some who are excellent at handling the responsibilities of their position, and some who are not as experienced. However, I have found that Chapter Presidents are much more efficient, impactful, and engaging when they know what a Regional President, or even regional staff, expects. In this article, I will outline what I, as Regional President, expect from Chapter Presidents.
First and foremost: diligence. It’s no secret that serving as a Chapter President – and succeeding – is difficult and stressful. Chapter Presidents are expected to serve to the very best of their abilities in all aspects of their jobs, from contacting potential members to planning events.
Second: dedication. While dedication to the position may be a given, a Chapter President must remain dedicated to the organization and what it stands for. For example, I personally know many Chapter Presidents who love the Region and are unafraid to let loose in a circle during ruach or pray fervently during services; however, these same people find it embarrassing to wear a USY shirt to school or ask potential members to join. It is integral to USY’s ultimate success as an organization that our leaders, our Chapter Presidents, are excited, rather than embarrassed, to take our message and broadcast it throughout their surroundings, whether they be the halls of a synagogue or the hallways of a school.
Third: honesty. One of the most frustrating parts of working with Chapter Presidents can be when the bonds of trust that connect Regional Officers and Chapter Presidents are broken. More often than not, these bonds are broken not as a result of personal strife, but of a Chapter President’s refusal to admit that they either need help or more time to finish a specific project. If you need help, tell your Regional President. If you need more time, tell your Regional President. It is imperative that, as a unit, the Regional President and the Chapter President complete their goal; honesty is the key to ultimate success. And for those of you who worry that your Regional President will be angry, I have promised my Chapter Presidents on multiple occasions that honesty is always better than finding out a project is incomplete upon its due date.
Three simple rules: diligence, dedication, and honesty. Chapter Presidents, it may be difficult to do everything, but these three basic qualities are expected of you. Follow these three rules, and you will be on the road to success!
2013 USY International President
2012-2013 Far West USY President
2012 Membership/Kadima IGB
SOCIAL ACTION/TIKUN OLAM
SA/TO can be incorporated in so many different ways on a chapter level. My goal for the year, like any SA/TO, was to increase T.O. (Tikun Olam) donations. There has been a downward trend of T.O. in the past few years which not only hurts USYers, but also the different tzedakot that rely on our donations. While regional events raise a lot of money, collecting T.O. on a chapter level can make a big impact. Start off by picking a tzedakah that is on the T.O. list. Vote on it as a chapter so it is something your chapter is really passionate about. This way, your chapter will be more willing to donate to this organization. Another thing that will help is making them realize that a large percentage of the money raised goes back to the USYers in your region for scholarship money.
So what’s next? There are so many different ways to raise money even if it is only a little bit at a time. Have a karaoke lounge night where people pay to make someone sing a song and then pay to make them stop. Have a small amount of your event’s cost go to T.O. or have a T.O. event where all profits go to T.O. If your chapter runs a booth at your synagogue’s yearly Purim carnival, have the profits all go to T.O. You can even reach out to your synagogue’s members. Send out a letter explaining what USY and the Tikun Olam Program are. Ask for donations of any amount and explain that any amount of money will really benefit the USYers. There are endless possibilities!
Tikun Olam is only one part of the job. Social action, especially on a chapter level, is so important. Doing hands-on projects are so meaningful because you see who you are affecting directly. Remember that organization you picked for your T.O. tzedakah? Go out and volunteer as a chapter to help that same cause. You can have an ongoing collection drive at your synagogue to collect things like children’s books, food, or clothing. Once again there are so many different things you can do to help your local community.
If you have any questions or need ideas please don’t hesitate to Facebook message or email me or your regional SA/TO VP. That’s what we’re here for. There are also great resources on the USY website on the SA/TO page and in the program bank. Take a look!
2012 International Social Action/Tikun Olam Vice President
Really Rad Resources
Check out some great SA/TO program ideas!
Want to know how to Allocate your T.O. Money?
How about check out some of the amazing Tzedakot to which USY donates it T.O. money!
Summer Program Registration is already open!