I don’t know how I would have made it through the last year without USY. With so much uncertainty in the world, USY was a constant. I knew I could always attend USYfi programs, and every month I would look forward to CRUSY lounge nights. My year as chapter president was in no way what I had expected, but my year on Regional General Board more than made up for it. Since all of my classes were online, I had time in my schedule to take on leadership positions, with my counterparts on Regional Executive Board fully supporting my crazy ideas. If you asked me at the beginning of my USY journey if I would have ever considered co-chairing a convention, I would have confidently said no. Yet, when I got a text message from my regional SA/TO Vice President encouraging me to apply to co-chair regionals, I decided to give it a try. Spoiler Alert: Co-chairing my last CRUSY convention was the perfect ending, and I am so thankful for my two amazing co-chairs that made The CRUSY Choice Awards so incredible.
In fact, I don’t know how I would have made it through the last four without USY. As one of the only Jewish students at my high school, I treasured opportunities to spend time with other Jewish teens. CRUSY is known for being full of ruach, and that could not be more true. The amount of loving, welcoming energy I would feel walking into (or logging into) a CRUSY convention was immediately evident. I really miss “Shavua Tov” hugs right after Havdalah and the immediate sense of friendship created within five minutes of meeting someone. I came to my first USY convention in search of a Jewish community, and stayed because USY became my home.
Fortunately, my USY home has no geographic boundaries and has taken me to interesting places all over the Midwest and the US, including DC, Florida, California, and a truck stop in the middle of Indiana. While all of those locations were fun and full of memories, that last location is one of my favorites. If I have to be stuck in the middle of nowhere, I’d much rather be stuck with my USY family than anyone else. One of the wonderful things about being in a region spanning many states, and my chapter being in the middle of the region, are the bus rides to and from conventions. The ride to convention is always full of icebreakers, meeting new friends, and finishing up last-minute homework. The rides home are full of sleep deprivation naps, sharing favorite memories, and during Branch 2 LTI in 2019, a bus breakdown that included spending 5+ hours at a Love’s truck stop an hour outside of Chicago. Making the best of the situation, we spent the time wandering the aisles locating random kosher food, watching movies on our phones, guessing when the replacement bus would arrive, and making TikToks. While this memory wasn’t directly USY related, we all bonded and created friendships in an unlikely environment. Another “only with USY” experience occurred in March 2018 when I attended March for Our Lives with USY. I knew nobody who was attending, and I was worried that I would be lonely the entire time. Yet, as soon as I arrived, I was welcomed into the pre-Shabbat discussion, and I immediately made friends. Walking to the march, we began singing sloach songs as a unified group, and it felt absolutely magical. The experience I had I can’t even put into words.
I have so many more stories I could tell, but I think you’d rather create your own memories rather than read all about mine. I’m jealous of those that have years left in their USY experience because it feels that mine had only just begun. Thanks to USY, I have memories that will last a lifetime, friends all across the world, and confidence that USY is building tomorrow’s Jewish leaders.
Beth Littman is a proud member of BuckUSY in Columbus, Ohio of the CRUSY Region and was an active leader as both Chapter President & Regional Convention Co-Chair. In the Fall, Beth will be attend the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.