Editor’s Note: In each article of our continuing series of reflections on USY from outgoing seniors, we try to look at USY from a slightly different perspective. In this installment, CHUSY’s Maddie Brim talks about her USY experience, and how she made sure her USY experience wasn’t defined by her leadership titles.
On the outside, USY is a community that is bound by transformative experiences, meaningful conversation, and lifelong friendships, but it’s so much more than that. USY is filled with the most caring, innovative, and passionate people I have ever met. It doesn’t matter if you’re 809 miles away from your closet USY friend – they will still answer a call on the second ring. USY allowed me to meet my best friends and grow into the person I am today and I couldn’t be more thankful for these last five years with the organization that will always have a special place in my heart.
What does it mean to be Jewish, and where do I belong? Had you asked five years ago, I would’ve been just as curious as you are. When I was younger, being Jewish meant eating apples and honey for Rosh Hashanah, and avoiding jelly covered gefilte fish no matter how much Mom claimed I’d like it. However, all this began to change when I began USY at a three-day retreat co-chaired by my older sister Miranda Brim, and my friend and role model Jessica Perl. Since then, I’ve gone to hundreds of events at my synagogue and served on seven USY leadership boards from Chapter Executive Board to International General Board.
CHUSY (the Chicagoland area region of USY) became my home and a place where I could grow, not only as a person, but as a Jew. Every time I went to a chapter event, I felt a sense of community. Every time I wore the red and white CHUSY President overalls and helmet that never seemed to balance on my head (but thankfully protected me from concussions), I grew more grateful for this organization. Open yourself up to the leadership opportunities that USY can give you like I did; I promise, in the end, it’ll all be worth it. USY made me confident in myself, and my only hope is that it will do the same for you.
While I have definitely served in various leadership roles, USY is often too focused on the leaders of our organization. I know that’s weird to hear coming from a past regional president, however, I truly mean it. USY is about the people. You make this community what it is. Without each of you, this organization would not be the same. Remind yourself of what you bring to this organization and what you can continue to do to make a difference, from kindness cards at a Shabbaton, to creating your own Social Action program in your community.
While it’s time for me, and for all of the seniors in our organization, to say goodbye, today is the perfect day to look ahead. After being elected CHUSY President, I was told how quickly the year would go by. Without realizing it, the year has ended for me and my amazingly awesome 2018-2019 Regional Executive Board. So if you take anything away from my spiel, then take advantage of the present. Whether you’re a senior heading off on gap year or a freshman just starting out your involvement in this organization, take advantage of the invaluable opportunities in front of you and make your time in USY count while you still can.
Madison Brim is a graduating senior from CHUSY and spent her time in high school participating in her chapter, Beth Judea USY (BJUSY), of Long Grove, Illinois. She is the immediate past regional president for CHUSY.