Editors’ Note: We are all familiar with what the Conservative movement looks like in North America. But how does this movement translates to the rest of the world? To teach us more about NOAM Olami, USY’s international counterpart, NOAM Olami Partnership Coordinator Becca Raush tells us a little bit more about Conservative Judaism around the world.
Shalom USY! My name is Becca Raush. I am a senior in high school, and a proud member of the mighty Mizrach region. I want to tell you all about a very cool organization that many of you may not have heard of. I am, of course, talking about NOAM Olami. NOAM (Noar Masorti – Masorti youth) Olami is the global network that connects Masorti (Traditional/Conservative) youth movements around the world. It is based in Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Mexico, France, Spain, Germany, Israel, UK, Ukraine, Australia, and Uganda. Oh, and of course, in the USA and Canada, where you all may have heard of it as… USY!
As I am sure you all know, because USY is a part of NOAM, NOAM participants have regional and national Shabbat retreats, winter and summer camps, and Israel trips. Additionally, NOAM educates its members in Masorti Judaism, Zionism, religious pluralism, community life, democracy and a strong sense of tolerance. A major aspect of NOAM is Tikun Olam. Members actively work to improve society through a variety of volunteer and community service projects, and by fundraising to contribute to causes that better our world. There are many benefits to being a part of the global community of Masorti youth. It allows for the sharing of materials, exchanging of ideas and experiences, learning from each other, and having extended family all over the world which supports and cares for each other. The NOAM website states its belief that “being a part of a bigger community both strengthens the individual’s identity and opens endless opportunities for benefiting from joint programs and cooperation,” and I think from our experience in USY, we all know that to be true.
This year I have the pleasure of serving as your NOAM Olami Partnership Coordinator. I chose to apply for this position because I have always wanted to learn about other cultures and how Judaism is practiced in nations outside of America. I had already explored this interest regarding Israel while serving as my region’s Israel Affairs VP, and I wanted to learn even more about other countries.
I would like to share with all of you lovely readers a very cool project you can get involved in. I learned about this from a Junior in METNY named Harrison Gerson. The Conservative Jewish community in Uganda, the Abayudaya, sell beautiful, handmaid kippot in order to raise money for their community. I encourage you all to buy them, and to encourage your regions to do the same.
Please e-mail [email protected] if you would like to purchase a kippah – we will put you in touch with the correct people. Todah Rabbah!
To learn more about NOAM Olami go to http://noam.masortiolami.org/us/.
Becca Raush is a senior from Mizrach USY. She is from BEVUSY (Beth El Voorhees USY) in Voorhees, New Jersey. She is currently serving as regional Israel Affairs Vice President and NOAM Olami Partnership Coordinator on Israel Affairs International General Board.