July 20, 2020
28 Tamuz 5780
Who is wise? One who learns from every person…
Who is strong? One who overpowers their inclinations…
Who is rich? One who is satisfied with their lot…
Who is honorable? One who honors their fellows.
– Ben Zoma, Pirkei Avot, 4:1
This powerful quote is one of our favorites. Why? Because it teaches us that wisdom, strength, wealth, and honor are intrinsic characteristics rather than external factors. These characteristics are up to each individual. To be wise, we need to open our eyes and see the world around us. To be strong and honorable, we must have the courage to do what is right. To be rich, we must appreciate what we have. Our attitude is the key factor and we have the power to change it.
These past four months have put all of these characteristics to the test. The pandemic has required us to use wisdom to listen to the experts, see what is happening in the world and adjust accordingly. We have summoned the strength to deal with the loss of conventions, programs, seeing our friends, summer programs, camps, proms, graduations, and more. We have been fortunate to still connect with each other through a virtual world, with the wealth of opportunity that those connections bring. We have spoken up and done what is right to honor and protect ourselves and others.
We have closely monitored the health situation throughout North America, and unfortunately come to the conclusion that USY is not ready to return to having many of our meaningful experiences in person as we have yearned for. Accordingly, we have sadly decided not to hold any in-person overnight programs for the remainder of 2020. This includes programs such as LTI, Fall Conventions, Kadima Conventions, and International Convention in Washington, D.C.
While we are disappointed that this is our reality, we are taking this opportunity to offer new ways for Jewish teens and tweens to get involved on a local, regional, branch, and International level. On August 13th, we will share more detailed information about our next steps.
We need to continue to remember that these characteristics of wisdom, strength, wealth, and honor are within each of us as we embrace new opportunities for the future. We look forward to the time when we can resume our conventions, but until then we invite you to join us on a new journey that we are confident will embrace these characteristics, and more.
Julie Marder – Director of Teen Engagement Department
Rabbi Joshua Rabin – Senior Director of Teen Engagement
Michelle Rich – Director of Teen Travel and International Engagement