Why do melons have weddings? Because they can’t-e-loupe!! Get it? Get it?
Wow, what a year. When we were announced as the new Achshav Blog Coordinators on January 31st, we had no idea what we were getting ourselves into. And for all the hours of calls, follow up emails, shared Facebook posts, and passive-aggressive texts sent to those who didn’t read the blog, this year has been one for the books. This year has been the most amazing, rewarding year working with the most incredible writers, and we wouldn’t have traded this experience for the world.
Coming into this year, we had three main goals. The first was to get every region involved and featured on the blog. We are so happy to report that we were successful on this front, with EVERY SINGLE REGION (including the merged ones!) being the center of their own regional spotlight! Additionally, we had at least 2 writers contribute to the blog from every single region! Our second goal was to make Achshav more widely known to the average USYer. And while we can’t definitively say that we achieved this goal, we are pretty confident that our 108 writers shared Achshav with at least a couple of their friends. So we believe we were successful on that front too. Our third goal was actually born from Jacob’s absence from International General Board Weekend. He “told” the IGB that he wanted usy.org/blog to be everyone’s top search result. And we KNOW that that is true for all of you. And if it’s not, then we are not mad, just disappointed.
In all seriousness though, this year has been so much better than we could have ever imagined. That would not have been possible without the help of some very important people. So we have a few thank yous to write. Please hold your virtual applause until the end.
To all of our writers: People always say, “it takes a village to raise a child.” We are firm believers in this. You, our village, have helped us raise Achshav higher than ever. Without you, we literally would have no content. Out of the 88 articles published this year, the Achshav Blog Coordinators have only actually written 8 articles. So we could not have been successful without your help. Whether you wrote a paragraph for a holiday traditions article, or wrote 3 full articles for Achshav, you are what made Achshav so enjoyable to read this year. So, from the bottom of our hearts, thank you.
To the Summer Experience IGB (Ben Miller, Aleeza Hulnick, and Lauren Krasilovsky) and Lily Selznick: We wanted to give you four an extra shout out for the extra contributions y’all made to the blog this year. The summer would’ve been boring without a new video every Sunday from the Summer Experience IGB squad, so we cannot thank you guys enough for filling in while we were M.I.A. over the summer months (aka when Reena went on EEIP and Jacob went to camp. Have we mentioned Reena went on EEIP? You should too.) Lily, meanwhile, was basically in charge of all of our religion-based content on the blog. She went above and beyond to showcase USYers from across the continent, and show how they connect to their Judaism. Lily, we are honestly so grateful that you wanted to help us with articles about Judaism this year, because we couldn’t have done nearly as good a job with them as you did. Thank you.
To our best friend, Google Drive: We don’t think we can understate how crucial a member of the Achshav team Google Drive was. Fun fact: Jacob has 2.9 GB of files on his Google Drive, and 2.6 GB of them are from Achshav. Google Drive, you literally taught Jacob organizational skills. He even keeps a calendar now! (Reena says that is a big deal!) Google Drive was where anything and everything blog related was worked on, shared, approved, and stored for the entirety of this year. If you track Jacob or Reena down at IC, ask them to show the Achshav Google Drive, it is a work of art. Google Drive, thank you for your service.
Before we continue with the thank yous, we want to try one last experiment before we have our power and platform stripped from us on Wednesday. We want to see how many people are still reading this article at this point. If you come up to Jacob or Reena during IC and randomly start singing Party in the USA, we will know you read this far. If you do this, we will reward you with one of the following: a) A piece of bubble gum; b) A high-five; c) A hug; or d) Our undying love and adoration. Now back to your regularly scheduled Achshav Coordinators crying out their final article.
To Zachary Phillip Wolfman: Thank you for giving us this opportunity. When we found out that you had selected us to be the Blog Coordinators for this year, we were over the moon, and couldn’t wait to get to work. Not only have you provided us with incredible leadership and guidance. You have also strived to be our friend, and to be there for us whenever we needed you. You gave us the freedom to fully implement our vision for what Achshav could be, and for that, we are forever indebted to you. Thank you for being the best overseeing officer we could have asked for, and the best international Comm USY has ever seen.
To Elyssa Ronik: Where do we even start. It is impossible to describe how instrumental you have been to the success of the blog this year. You are always there when we have a question, need a movie to reference, or just want to talk about USY or life in general. We are going to miss our absurd email threads with you, and finding slightly altered movie quotes with which we flood your inbox. You have literally done whatever you could to help us, going above and beyond what we requested of your help (your photoshops gems will never be forgotten.) This blog would have been nothing without you, and we can’t properly put into words how thankful we are for you. We’ll try though, and we’d like to leave you with one final quote. “There was an idea, called the Achshav Initiative. The idea was to bring together a group of remarkable people to see if they could make the blog become something more. To see if they could work together when we needed them to, to write the articles that we never could.” -Nick Fury (ish)
Finally, to our loyal readers: Thank you. We would not have put countless hours of blood, sweat, and tears into curating Achshav content if it wasn’t for you. When we got feedback from you, words of encouragement from you, ideas from you, support from you, it meant the world to us. You drove us to work harder to make the blog the best it could possibly be. Achshav is nothing without you guys, and we cannot thank you enough for sticking with us this entire year.
This year was incredibly educational for us here at Achshav HQ. Jacob, for instance, learned that organization is NOT actually the bane of his existence, and that keeping a calendar is not necessarily a cumbersome task (for anyone that knows Jacob, that is a pretty big deal). Reena learned how much she loves telling people that she went on Pilg. Hey, by the way, you should go on Pilg (Eastern Europe Israel Pilgrimage 2nd Departure would be Reena’s choice but L’takayn Olam could probably work too)(Jacob’s interjection: Now just imagine her after she goes on Nativ next year…) Beyond our own personal skills, we learned a lot about other people as well. For instance, Madam President Noa Kligfeld emailed us in *REDACTED* asking if she could write an article about her connection with tefillin. Maybe we’ll finally get to see it at IC? We also learned how to use iMovie, though it took hours of playing around with the software and hours of searching for the PERFECT royalty-free music. Critically, we learned that no pun is a bad pun, and you can never have too many puns. If you cringed at our puns, that is your problem, not ours. All jokes aside, we learned about the unique traditions of each region this year, and why each region is amazing in its own way (Jacob’s Interjection: But clearly Central Region is still the best 🙂 ) We got to work with over a hundred amazing USYers, and talk to them about how they view USY and what they love most about our beloved organization. And, in working with each other for the past 11 months, we learned the value of working as a team. We couldn’t have done this alone, so we thank each and every one of you for being a part of our journey.
With that being said, our Achshav journey nears its end. That doesn’t mean Achshav is going away anytime soon. We still have some incredible stuff going on at IC for those of you attending, and we know that next year’s Achshav Blog Coordinators are going to be AMAZING. (If you ever need writers, hit us up 🙂 ) Achshav is here to stay. But Jacob and Reena are not 🙁
Our year with Achshav was born from both of us taking the chance to try something new. We took a risk by applying for IGB, not knowing whether we’d get on or if we’d be good. You’ll never know how much good you can do for USY until you take a chance. Run for chapter board. Apply for RGB or IGB. Take a chance, you might be able to do something great. We took a chance this year, and it was the best decision we have ever made.
One of the most important rules on any rules list is “Have fun!” Even if it’s not a rule, having fun is the most important thing. No matter what, make sure you take time and have fun. You only have so much time in USY and before you know it you’ll be going to your senior IC. So take advantage of the time that you have and enjoy every moment.
Finally, always remember that your passion for USY, the spark within you that keeps you coming back to every convention, that spark is contagious. By keeping your passion for USY alive, you keep our beloved youth group strong. Try new things, step out of your comfort zone, and always come to convention with enough ruach to share with every teen in North America. Your passion is the future of USY, and we need your passion more than ever.
USY–it’s been real, Achshav is in your hands now.
Catch ya on the flippity flop,
Reena Bromberg Gaber and Jacob Ellenbogen
Hey USY, Jacob here. I wanted to add one more thank you that I didn’t mention before, probably the most important thank you I can give. Back in January, this person and I learned that we would spend the remainder of 2019 as partners in crime, as a team. I was beyond excited, that I called her that night and we both freaked out a little bit. Over the past 11 months, the two of us have worked tirelessly to make this blog as amazing as it can be, and there is no way that we could have ever succeeded if it wasn’t for the one and only Reena Bromberg Gaber.
To Reena: Thank you for being the best co-Achshav Blog Coordinator I could have ever asked for. Just as you have gone above and beyond to make your region as great as it can be (shout out Mizrach), you have done the same for Achshav. Your puns always make me smile, even if it is through a bit of cringe. You kept me sane during our absurdly long calls. There is nothing I enjoy more than spending an hour getting sidetracked with you when we’ve already been working on the same article for two and a half hours. I’m so glad to be able to call you one of my best friends, and I can’t wait to see what the future holds for you. Because whatever you do in life, I know you are going to be great. Thanks for helping me survive this year, there is no way this team works without you. Oh, and sorry I didn’t tell you I was putting this in, I wanted it to be a surprise. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯