Editors’ Note: “Find. Your. Sheep.” These now infamous words, first discovered deep within the first sentence of the speech of then-future International President Noa Kligfeld, took on a life of their own near-instantaneously. At first, the words became one of the most widespread international memes in history, but then they took a new direction. With the introduction of the Find Your Sheep challenge, the memes became friendships. Read about some of those friendships below.
Throughout the USY year, it can seem difficult to make new USY friends from outside of your region if you aren’t attending another region’s convention or a USY summer program (both of which are highly encouraged). But what if there was a way to make a new best friend from outside of your region without leaving the comfort of your own home?
Introducing (drumroll please) the Find Your Sheep challenge! Participants in the Find Your Sheep challenge are paired with a USYer from a different region and given a series of questions to help form a bond between them. It’s an amazing opportunity to bond with teens from the many amazing regions that make up USY!
But don’t just take our word for it! Here are some of the experiences of the USYers who have participated in the first two rounds of the challenge!
Yehudah Browne, METNY
“The Find Your Sheep challenge is the greatest thing ever created! It allows you to become friends with someone in USY who lives anywhere. My first buddy was my first international friend and when I met him in person at Fall Boards it was like we had known each other for years. The conversation starters that we were provided with made it easier to get to know my buddy and made it a less awkward experience. Everyone should sign up for the Find Your Sheep challenge!!”
Yoni Livstone, Hagalil
“On May 6, 2019, my life changed forever. A shidduch, matchmaking of sorts, along with a friendship bound to last for the months to come was made. I received an email saying that I had been successfully paired for the Find Your Sheep Program to none other than THE Yehudah Browne. Yehudah and I bonded via text over the next few months. We both do sports: I swim, and he plays frisbee. We are also both super duper passionate about USY.
Yehudah and I met for the first time at Fall Board Weekend. While I knew he would be there, the first problem was figuring out what he looked like. It turns out he doesn’t look anything like a sheep. There was a moment when I saw him pass me and I had a hunch that it was him. “Yehudah?” I called. The person turned around, and it was him. We hugged and have been friends ever since.”
Camelia Foroohar, HaNer
“The Find Your Sheep challenge had a hugely positive impact on my life this year. When I first came across the challenge on Facebook, I was excited to sign up since it looked fun, however, I didn’t really think I would make any true connections. Regardless, I signed up anyway and I could never have been more wrong. Shortly after I signed up, I received an email pairing me up with a girl in my grade. We exchanged contacts but didn’t really talk until the first “challenge” was given—basically, a series of challenges were sent out (ranging from simple questions to ask your partner, to bigger challenges like creating a parody of a popular song about your partner) in order to better help you connect with your partner. I found the challenges a great and fun way to bond with my “sheep”. The challenges boosted the start of my friendship with my “sheep” so that even when the challenges ended, I had this strong connection with the 10th-grade girl who lived 1,130 miles away. Although we had never met, I began to seriously enjoy talking with her. Not only did we both have a strong love for Judaism and USY, but we had many other things in common, ranging from having a twin to enjoying broadway musicals. We began texting every day, always checking on each other or asking each other how school was. We would also FaceTime regularly, and even though I have known her for only a few months, it feels like we’ve known each other for years. We’ve even planned a time to meet up. The Find Your Sheep challenge has allowed me to make a connection to someone I would have never otherwise met—without it, I would never have met the girl who is now one of my best friends.”
Chance Morrow, Far West
“Through the Find Your Sheep challenge I made one of my closest friends in the entire world. We now FaceTime every day and I couldn’t be happier that I met her. I can’t wait to meet her in person at IC. The Find Your Sheep challenge is an amazing program that I definitely think everyone should do. You can meet such amazing people online and then get the chance to meet them in real life at IC. It is so much fun and the suspense of finding out who you will be paired with is both stressful and exciting. I highly recommend that everyone do the challenge because you never know how close you can get to someone new. I can’t wait for the next round of Find Your Sheep, and for the many more friendships that I get the chance to make.”
Sami Goldberg, Mizrach
“The Find Your Sheep initiative has honestly been so amazing to be a part of this past year. I have connected with so many people (my sheep and others) that I otherwise may have never connected with. Being able to connect with teens from all over North America throughout the year makes going to international events so much easier. I can’t wait to continue to find more sheep and build stronger relationships with the ones I already have.”
Carol Kornworcel, HaNegev
“This past year, I have participated in the Find Your Sheep challenge, and it has been such a fun and interesting way to meet people from around the country. My first “sheep” was Robbie Baker from Pinwheel, and while we didn’t do many of the challenges, we did become super close friends. I realized how many things we had in common and how different each region is from one another. Still now, after the challenge is over, we talk every day. Currently, my “sheep” is Mirielle Smith from Far West. While we haven’t talked much, we have bonded over common stories like theatre directors (iykyk). I’m so glad I was able to participate in such an amazing challenge, and that I got to meet two amazing people through the challenge.”
Jacob Ellenbogen, CRUSY
“I am so lucky to have been paired with two of the most incredible sheep! For the first round I was paired with Sadie Waldbaum. She and I really utilized the prompts given by the Connection Chairs to really get to know each other. I do remember that for about the first week that we were partners, Sadie and I kept taking turns asking each other icebreaker questions, and we learned some really fun stuff about one another! I knew her a little before the challenge, but I’m so glad that I was able to become closer to her! During the second round I was paired with someone I had never met before, but that didn’t stop Sophia Breslau and I from becoming friends quickly. While at first we also leaned on the prompts a little bit, as the challenge went on we became closer and closer, until conversation just flowed naturally between us. I am so excited to meet Sophia in person at IC! The Find Your Sheep challenge has been so much fun so far! It’s a great way for USYers to connect with people across the continent, and I can tell you from personal experience that you can make great friends if you sign up! I highly, HIGHLY recommend that each and every one of you signs up for the challenge when sign up for the next round opens!”
Now that you’ve heard all of these amazing experiences from USYers across North America, we hope you’ll join us and sign up for the last round of the Find Your Sheep Challenge in 2019, coming in November!
Happy Sheep Finding!
Sam Bloch and Austin Kaufman, 2019 USYer Connection Chairs
This article was compiled by the 2019 Connection Chairs. You can learn more about them here.