Last year, IC took place on a digital conference platform, allowing Jewish teens from around the world to participate. We might not have been able to be together in person, but this innovative platform allowed us to have the personal interactions, bonding, ruach, and laughter that make every IC so special.
We were so proud to bring to you meaningful keynote addresses from Sarah Hurwitz, Michelle Obama’s former chief speechwriter, and Sammy Rangel, co-founder and executive director of Life After Hate, as well as a once in a lifetime musical experience with Koolulam.
The theme for the 2020 International Convention was “History in The Making, B’chol Dor Vador – Within Every Generation.” We spent time learning about our individual and collective histories, our present challenges, and how within our own generation we can effect change to create a more positive future.
Sarah Hurwitz – Former Chief Speechwriter for First Lady Michelle Obama
Sarah Hurwitz was a White House speechwriter from 2009 to 2017, starting out as a senior speechwriter for President Barack Obama and then serving as chief speechwriter for First Lady Michelle Obama. Sarah worked with Mrs. Obama to craft widely-acclaimed addresses – including her 2016 Democratic National Convention speech and her political speeches during the 2016 campaign cycle – and traveled with the First Lady across America and to five continents.
During the final years of her tenure in the White House as First Lady Michelle Obama’s chief speechwriter, Sarah Hurwitz reconnected with Judaism, exploring the wisdom of Jewish law, the power of Jewish spirituality, and the lessons of Jewish history, all of which had a profound impact on her political career. From drafting her first out of office message for Shabbat, to attending her first Jewish silent meditation retreat, to coming to understand that her role as a speechwriter is to tell the story of the stranger – those who are oppressed or forgotten – Hurwitz speaks about her Jewish journey and how her Jewish values shaped her time in the White House.
Sarah is excited to speak to our teens and offer a behind the scenes glimpse at life on presidential campaigns and in the White House through a unique Jewish lens, as she inspires others to find their voices as leaders and pursue their own careers in public service.
Sammy Rangel – Executive Director and Co-Founder of Life After Hate, Inc.
Sammy Rangel is the Executive Director and Co-Founder of Life After Hate and author of FOURBEARS: The Myths of Forgiveness. In 2017, he was honored in a special tribute to Everyday Heroes in the Global Campaign Against Violent Extremism. In addition, Sammy is a social worker, peace activist, trainer, and father. Sammy is excited to join our community to share his personal journey overcoming fear, anger, and hate through service work, intentional action, accountability, and collectivism. Our teens will be able to hear Sammy’s dynamic and touching story, engage with him through a Q and A format, and debrief their learning together in smaller breakout sessions. Sammy’s story aligns closely with our theme this year, as we hope our teens will walk away inspired to overcome difficulties within their own lives, but also know that they are not alone in these journeys. Together we hope to empower our communities to create spaces driven by the active support of one another.
Koolulam is a social music initiative aimed at strengthening the fabric of society. Koolulam’s tagline, “Singing is Believing,” fits seamlessly with International Convention, where our teens tell us each year that the ruach, singing, and dancing experienced alongside their friends fosters a unique bond between participants. This year, despite shifting virtually, we still brought those same feelings into homes.
Koolulam’s project centers around musical performances created by convening large groups of individuals to form a uniquely collaborative musical creation. Like many of us, they have shifted their project to an online format, while still ensuring the audience is the artist at the heart of the experience. At IC — those artists were our teens. We stopped amidst our busy days, weeks, and conventions to simply connect with each other through song. Every participant entered as a unique individual and left feeling part of a larger whole.
We are so grateful for all our corporate, organizational, and personal sponsors for IC Everywhere! To see the full list of our sponsors, please click here.