Meaningful Moments from USY’s 2019-2020 Regional Presidents

Hey USY! My name is Lily Selznick and this year I’m super excited to share USYers “meaningful moments” with all of USY. You’re probably wondering, ‘what is a meaningful moment?’ A ‘meaningful moment’ is a special moment that connected a USYer to their Judaism. This first set of ‘meaningful moments’ comes from your new regional presidents at their spring conventions! I hope you have as much fun reading this as the Rel/Ed IGB had putting this together!

With so much love,

Rel/Ed IGB 2019

*If you want to share your meaningful moment with USY please contact Rel/Ed IGB at [email protected]*

Ariana Handelman – CHUSY

“Hey everyone! I’m Ariana Handelman, I’m from Chicago and I’m the new CHUSY President. I’m so excited to meet more USYers this year!! CHUSY recently had its annual Kinnus. During the weekend I connected to my Judaism on Friday night, through a tisch, sitting around a table, singing. Someone started singing and others began to pull up chairs. Everyone took turns leading songs like Mah Yedidut and Yom Ze Mechubad and soon there was no room at the table and the circle kept expanding! This was meaningful because I was able to relax, listen and smile with my friends. The songs and excitement represent what Judaism means to me: fun, friends and connections.”

Emma Segerman – CRUSY

“Hey y’all! I’m Emma Segerman, I’m from Columbus, Ohio (Editor’s note: Yeah BUCKUSY!), and I’m the new Regional President for CRUSY! I can’t wait to get started with this year! CRUSY had our annual Regional Convention April 11-14 and it was definitely the best weekend of the year. I really connected to my Judaism during our Saturday night slow ruach session. Surrounded by my entire region, hearing all our voices come together, I really connected to the way in which Jewish prayer and song can bring us together in a deeper way 💕.”

Nava Wolfish – ECRUSY

“Hi! I’m Nava Wolfish, and I’m the new ECRUSY President! I come from Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, and I’m excited to serve my region. Over the weekend of May 31-June 2, ECRUSY had its annual Spring Convention. It was an amazing experience to connect to my Jewish roots, especially through slow ruach, which has always held a special place in my heart. Slow ruach is so meaningful to me because it is when I find I can make the closest connections to the other Jewish teens around me, which in turn creates a closer connection to Judaism. I find it so inspiring how Jews globally can sit together and know the same songs and poetry, and despite our individual circumstances, we can find similarities between one another. This is why I find slow ruach so meaningful, because of how close it brings me to my fellow Jews and religion.”

Eitan Weinstein – Emtza

“Hey USY!!! I’m Eitan Weinstein, I’m from Minneapolis, Minnesota and I’m Emtza’s Regional President for the 2019-2020 year! A meaningful moment that I had at Spring Kallah happened when we were doing Kabbalat Shabbat. What stood out to me during the service was when we finished singing the words of Shiru La’Adonai Shir Ḥadash, everyone stood up, dancing and clapping, bringing a whole new level of energy to the room. I really noticed how special it felt to be in a community with so much ruach. We sang through the niggun over and over, bringing new meaning to the words in this prayer, ‘Let the heavens rejoice, let the earth be glad. Let the sea and all it contains roar in praise.’ Our vibrant community has the power to bring joy and glee to each other, and that is something truly amazing. 😯”

Jayde Kahn – Far West

“Hi! I’m Jayde Kahn, and I’m so so so excited to have been elected as Far West’s Executive/Programming Vice President for the 2019-2020 year! Over Memorial Day weekend, Far West had its annual Regional Convention at Camp Alonim in Simi Valley, where I ran for Exec VP, but more importantly, got to spend time with my USY friends. A time during the weekend when I connected to my Judaism the most was at Far West Shabbat Mincha. Unlike regular Shabbat Mincha, the Far West version is upbeat, happy, and full of tunes that get everyone clapping, on their feet, and singing along (See the Far West regional spotlight about this here!). Mincha is by far my favorite part of any weekend, and I participate in the service smiling, laughing, praying, and celebrating Shabbat with my friends. Far West Mincha is meaningful for me because the vibe and the feelings that I get make me happy and remind me that USY will always be a part of me, and I will always feel at home when surrounded by my Far West mishpacha. Having this understanding about what USY means to me and being able to have the position of Executive/Programming VP is such a blessing, and I’m so excited and proud to serve my region this year.”

Talia Levin – Hagalil

“Hi! I’m Talia and I’m Hagalil’s regional president! (Editor’s note: She’s from Hagalil! *clap*) At our Spring Convention we did a tefillin swap and I was lucky enough to give my tefillin to my close camp friend. She told me she had never wrapped before and I was so glad she got to try it for the first time in USY, just like I had two years before. It was so powerful to get to share how I connect to praying with someone else, especially in an egalitarian way. We then talked about the impact USY has had on each of our Judaism and it was beautiful. It was so meaningful to talk about how our feelings towards religion have grown because of this amazing organization.”

Emma Grungold – HaNegev

“Hi! My name is Emma Grungold. I’m from Florida and I am the new HaNegev President (woo woo!!). In April, HaNegev had its regional convention #GIC (“Gev In Color”) and it was amazing! I truly felt most connected to my Judaism during Havdallah. Watching HaNegev close Shabbat with the loudest and proudest Havdallah was incREL/EDibly meaningful and makes me wish I could end every Shabbat that way. Thank you HaNegev for always bringing the RUACH and I can’t wait for this year!!❤️🐫”

Ben Kane – HaNer

“Hey all! My name is Benjamin Kane, and I am currently beginning my term as the regional president of the newly formed HaNer region (comprised of the former NERUSY and Hanefesh regions). This past spring convention, I was tasked with leading the entire convention body in a slow ruach session after seudat shlishit (dinner) to begin our proceedings of saying goodbye to Shabbat. This moment was incredibly powerful for me, as I was in the middle of my entire region forming concentric circles around me and could hear the collective voices of everyone singing the same songs. Being in the middle during this moment also enabled me to see the expressions of all of those participating, and everyone looked truly moved and immersed throughout this meaningful experience. For the graduating class of our region every year, slow ruach at spring convention is an incredibly emotional time, and feeling the emotions coming out of my closest friends truly showed me the meaning and weight USY carries.”

Stephen Bartell – METNY

“Hey USY!!!! I’m Stephen Bartell and I couldn’t be more excited to serve as the new METNY Regional President!!! METNY had its annual Regional Convention from May 17th-19th, and it was truly an unforgettable weekend, filled with loads of energy and warmth. I had a very meaningful moment during our slow ruach session as I watched METNY’s senior class sing their hearts out for the very last time!!! The undeniable kavanah with which they sang every last word was a reminder for me of the incredible community and lifelong friendships that USY helps to create. It was such an inspiring moment and it made me even more energized to leave my mark on my region this upcoming year!!!”

Reena Bromberg Gaber – Mizrach

“Hi!!! My name is Reena Bromberg Gaber, I’m from Pennsylvania, and I’m proud to be serving as the 2019-2020 President of the Mighty Mizrach Region. This past April 12-14, Mizrach had its annual Spring Convention. I connected to Judaism during slowach Saturday night at convention. We had so many new kids sitting in the circle, who to be honest were looking a little lost in the beginning. But throughout the rest of singing, even if they didn’t know the words, some of them opened their B’kol Echads, or even just sat there and listened. But our ruach was still as strong as ever. Every song was sung loudly and with pride. It was interesting to look from the outside of the circle where the underclassmen sat, to the inside of the circle where the seniors sat. They all knew every word or were following along, and the love they had for each other was infectious. It was so beautiful.”

Miri Leaderman-Bray – New Frontier

“Hi, my name is Miri Leaderman-Bray, I’m from Sacramento and I’m the new New Frontier President! At our most recent convention, May Convention, I connected to my Judaism when we did Shacharit together on Sunday morning. It allowed me to reflect on how special it is to be surrounded by other young Jews. I loved the feeling of being connected to everyone in the room through my heritage. Thanks New Fro, can’t wait for this year!”

Sammie Rosenfield – Pinwheel

“Hi! My name is Sammie Rosenfield, I’m from Portland, Oregon, and I’m the new Pinwheel Regional President! I’m so excited for this year! In May, Pinwheel had its annual regional convention in San Jose, California. I connected to my Judaism during slowach. This was impactful because I was surrounded by all of my friends singing meaningful songs. No matter what you think about the rest of the convention, slowach always seems to bring everyone together!”

Gabe Kanter-Goodell – Seaboard

“Hello! I’m Gabe Kanter-Goodell, Seaboard’s new Regional President! Over Memorial Day weekend we had our annual Spring Convention! I connected to my Judaism because of the interesting sichot topics and-filled services. I found it so meaningful because I realized how much USY has changed my view on Judaism and how I connect to it. Over these past years, I found my connection to prayer and to knowledge, as well as a community to share these passions with.”

Michelle Goss – SWUSY

“Hi! My name is Michelle Goss from Oklahoma City and I’m the new SWUSY president. I’m super pumped for this upcoming year! SWUSY had its annual Regionals. I connected to my Judaism during the last Adon Olam where we learned how to sing it to the melody of “One Day”. This was meaningful because I associate One Day with a lot of good memories from camp and it brought a new meaning to a prayer I usually do absentmindedly.”

Hannah Wallenfels – Tzafon

“Hello! My name is Hannah Wallenfels. I’m from Buffalo, New York, and I’m the new president of Tzafon! I cannot wait to see what the upcoming year brings. Tzafon recently had our final convention of the year, Kinnus Gadol. I felt a particularly strong connection to Judaism during Havdallah. Even though it was a smaller convention for us in terms of attendance, everyone was singing so loudly and passionately that the sound of the prayer seemed to wrap around you in the moment. It was so special because when I looked around at all of the people there, especially the seniors, I felt so grateful that Judaism could bring such a unique group of people like this together. I have high hopes that next year will be even better than the last and I’m so excited!”