Editors’ Note: This year, Achshav has visited every single region in USY. We started way back in April in the host region for IC, Far West USY, and since then we have learned a little bit about each region across the continent. Every region has had its chance to shine; every region, except the newest one. HaNer USY did not exist at the beginning of our term, but now they thrive. Their inaugural regional president, Ben Kane, tells us today, in our FINAL regional spotlight, about how HaNer is finding their identity.
The majority of USYers will never have to experience changing regions throughout their entire USY career. Regions are a second home to USYers, a place that teens can always go back to during stressful school years. They provide a much-needed constant in life, where you know that the traditions, songs, and people will never change. This is what makes changing regions so difficult. When regions change, it isn’t just the geographical borders or staff that are different, it’s the entire regional identity that has to be created from scratch, all over again.
Going into my presidency, I wanted to help find that regional identity. I wanted to dig deep into HaNer USY and locate the spark that will define our region. I wanted to hold the baby region’s hand and ease it into USY, and over time, help it develop and grow into its own powerful, unique, and individual region. Unfortunately for me, by the time I banged the gavel to open Encampment, HaNer’s first-ever convention, that spark was well on its way to being found, and it wasn’t a result of any of my doing.
HaNer is defined by the passionate USYers that make up its ranks. Take it from me, I see it every week. Regional lounges are packed to the brim with teenagers who project their energy, spirit, and ruach into USY any time that they can, and they are places that I can go to every week and see the extent to which HaNer impacts the lives of Jewish teens across New England. These USYers are incredibly thoughtful, bright, and excited to sculpt HaNer into the best region it can possibly be. At our Leadership convention, each Regional Executive Board member sat down with 10-15 of their counterparts at the chapter level and discussed how to make this region as great as it can be. The pure passion that HaNer USYers have for the region is unbelievable and provides a critical source of regional identity. But they’re also some of the silliest kids I’ve ever met. If you attended Northeast Encampment (or have been in a five-foot radius of someone who did), you will never be able to get the words “bing bong” out of your head. If you ever walk into Temple Emanuel in Newton on Wednesday evenings, you are sure to hear the laughs and yelling of USYers who are just happy to be in their home again.
It isn’t easy creating a new region out of two incredibly strong ones, but HaNer has already established itself as a region with a unique identity on display for all of USY to see. It is because of the multitude of passionate USYers that comprise HaNer that this identity is so prominent and strong.
Ben Kane is a senior from HaNer USY. He is a proud member of Sharon USY in Sharon, Massachusetts. He is currently serving as regional President and Development Chair on International General Board.