We will spend time this year 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. One way in which this theme will come to life is through our keynote speakers. We are excited to announce our first two special guests, and encourage you to check back in the coming months to learn about the additional speakers, workshop leaders, and educators who will join our IC Everywhere community.
USYers attending IC Everywhere 2020 will have the special opportunity to hear from and engage with Sarah Hurwitz, 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.
USY is excited to announce that Sammy Rangel, Executive Director and Co-Founder of Life After Hate and author of FOURBEARS: The Myths of Forgiveness, will be joining us at IC this year for a keynote presentation. 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.
Each year, in addition to our featured guest speakers, USY is proud to provide a platform for our own teens to share their own messages, journeys, and stories. This year we will again be opening applications for USYers to deliver USY Talks. Past speakers have highlighted their path to becoming socially conscious entrepreneurs, others spoke about overcoming personal challenges or finding their Jewish identity. We are so proud of the brave spaces our USYers continue to foster and promote and cannot wait to hear more powerful stories this December.