Tuesday, May 31, 2011

USY Handbook: USY Board Positions

Today was my last chapter board meeting as chapter president. The last time I would franticly run to the copier to make sure I had all the hand outs ready before anyone arrived, only to have the copier jam about three time. It was defiantly a bittersweet meeting as we looked ahead to election and the ends of our terms. So I decided as I explain the importance of every position on a USY board to my board to help them understand why we could not have co-presidents if we did not even have a full board I decided to post it here for any USYer who would like to know more about each position.

President- The overseer of all things that the rest of the board does. Usually the organized one who makes all the agendas and schedules. Picks up any and all slack that needs to be done and any work that does not fall into another category(which is a lot more than you think). Also does what ever no one else wants to do, and puts every thing she/he can into his/her job.

Israel Affairs Vice President (IA)- In charge of all things Israel. Updates to chapter/region. Israel late nights at convention. Israel themed events.Over sees the IA general board (if there is one, there usually is not in a chapter). Also should the president resign for whatever reason the IA becomes the president.

Religion/Education Vice President (Rel/Ed)- In charge of all religion and educational aspects of USY. Makes sure that there is someone doing everything during services. Educates the chapter/region on Jewish holidays and such. Over sees rel/ed general board.

Hanefesh REB '11-'12 from left: Jacob(SA/TO), Rachel(IA), Penina(President), Joan a.k.a. me(Mem/Kad), Micah(Rel/Ed)
Social Action/ Tikun Olam Vice President (SA/TO)- In charge of all charity and volunteer work in USY. Organizes SA/TO events that raise money for different charities. Over sees SA/TO general board.

Membership/ Kadima Vice President (Mem/Kad)- First off clearly the best board position because its mine. Keeps track of membership numbers. Recruit new members, and help integrate them once they join USY. Plan all Kadima events and programs, Helps 8th graders bridge. Over sees mem/kad general board.

Communications Vice President (Com)- In charge of all communications with the region/chapter. Publicizes all events and make sure the work gets out. Does Facebook and website posting. Edits and collaborates all publications and newsletters. Over sees com general board.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

The Beginning of the End(of Being Chapter President)

Sorry I haven't posted in a while on Friday I got home later than usual and did not have a lot of time before shabbos dinner. First happy Memorial Day Weekend to all. This post is going to be about my chapter I think.

It is a bit scary that in a one week I will end my last term as chapter president. Every things in order for the next person to take office. Some one else will have my 3in binder and fed-ex bag of silicone bracelet. Almost done. Its time for my chapter to function with out me. Time to make my last checklist(as chapter president I am sure I will make many as mem/kad) on that pink paper I always use.

  • Proof read Constitution one last time
  • Read all application to run
  • Write elections script for board members
  • Download all chapter USY tings on to a USB drive
  • Make sure everything in the binder is up to date
  • Write letter to next chapter president
Thats it then we get to election day. My final act will be to adopt the new constitution. Then we elect the new board. And lastly we will be uninstall-ed and we will be install-ed. Marking the end of an era but the beginning of a new and hopefully better one for everyone.

Picture of the kids in my chapter who where at spring convention
Freshman year I wasn't even elected president it was more of an appointment. One day I was checking my e-mail and I had one from the region. I was very confused because it was addressed to chapter presidents, it asked them to write an article for Kulanu, the newsletter. I called up the person who was my chapter advisor at the time. I asked him about the e-mail and he said that when he was asked who the president was he gave my name. So I figured I might as well write the article and I did.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Flashback: Bonnie vs. Julia

Sorry another vinette, I promise more real post soon.

“Time to open your presents” my mom shouts up the stairs. I run down the stairs as fast as I can. Wait I am missing something, I stop suddenly. I forgot Bonnie upstairs on my bed. Bonnie is my stuff dog from FOA Schwartz, I got her when I was a baby and she goes everywhere with me.  I quickly run back upstairs to get Bonnie, as I pick her up I run back down to the big pile of presents. I really only wanted to open the big boxes in the back that had arrived a few days earlier. I was being told to politely open the rest of the presents first. Bonnie and I started to open the presents one by one, any five year old should be excited about new toys but I am too focused on the boxes in the back. Finally I finished opening all the other presents and strait for one of the boxes I go.
I rip the wrapping paper off the box with Bonnie by my side…a cardboard box? That is NOT what is supposed to be in there. My dad takes the box from me though and opens it with scissors and hands it back to me. Out slides a wicker suitcase, I unsnap it filled with suspense, and inside I find little of different doll accessories. Not what I was looking for but I am still excite, plus there is still one more box to go. Again I rip off the wrapping paper and find another cardboard box. Now my dad is already on standby with the scissors ready and opens the second box. This time I throw Bonnie grab the box and reach inside to find a doll. Not just any doll but a Bitty Baby American Girl Doll. I had been asking for an American Girl Doll for weeks, while this might not have been an American Girl Doll I knew it was as close as I was getting. I excitedly named her Julia. For the next few days Julia came with me everywhere I went instead of Bonnie.
Bitty Baby similar to Julia except for outfit
 A few days later my mom started telling me it was time to go visit my great grandma in her nursing home and to get ready and to remember Bonnie, my mom had forgotten about Julia. While my mom may have forgotten Julie, I had forgotten about Bonnie, but my mom just reminded me. In a panic I remember I don’t know where Bonnie is. Running, I go to my brother asking if he knew what happened to Bonnie. He is looking at me like I am crazy and points to the two stuff dogs that are bigger than me. As I turn there she is, Bonnie is in their arms. I hug her and whisper “I will never forget about you again.”

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Big Time Rush

Again I have a lot of homework so this will be a short post. Anyway this past Sunday was the summer kickoff concert at Six Flags while we were there. The biggest name that was there was Big Time Rush. For those of you who don't know who they are, its a boy band that has a show on Disney Channel(or Nickelodeon don't remember which).

Before I get further I would like to put in a disclaimed about the fallowing story. I was not there for the fallowing events and heard them through a friend. All information I am about to post may not be true though I will do my best. If you were there for the fallowing events and I do not have them correctly please do not get mad or offended.

Back to the story, some USYers saw the band as they were coming into Six Flags. Releasing their inner tween they decided to start cheering for the band.

The members of Big Time Rush turned towards them and asked, "Can any of you name one song by us?"
Big Time Rush performing at Six Flags New England

A hush fell over the USYers fallowed by an awkward silence. I can proudly say that none of them knew the name of a song by Big Time Rush, I feel this is probably a good thing.

However I can not say the same for my friend Vanessa, who when I relayed the story to in free quickly told me about how "Boyfriend" is there latest song. Good Job

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Flashback: First Memory

I have a lot of homework so I don't have a lot of time to post as a result. This week in English I was assigned to write three vinettes(short stories), to night I am going to post my first one. It doesn't really have to do with USY sorry, I promise a more USY centered one tomorrow. Also it had to be written in 1st person so it is a bit different then previous stories. A little background information, this is my first memory from when I was three and had my tonsils removed.

Everything is so white, it’s a little frightening. A nurse leads me and my dad to a room filled with toys it looks like, my dad goes in to get a wagon. It is plastic, not like the one we have at home, but it is red tike mine, but it has blue doors on each side. Unsure I get in the wagon and my dad starts pulling me around. Down in the elevator we go, as we leave the elevator I am dwarfed by what I am seeing. I have read many books about the orphaned elephant. Here right in front of me in a hospital stands Babar, six feet tall. We only get to stay for a minute as I look up at him. Soon my dad takes me back to my room.
Babar the Elephant in Legos at Yale New Haven Hospital

As we get back to my room another nurse enters, in her hands are tow funny looking things and a doll. The nurse sits next to me and explains that the funny looking things are masks, the big one is for me and the small one is for the doll, which she hands to me. I quickly decide to hold the doll closely along with Rebecca, a small green dog that was given to me when I first came here. The nurse starts to explain to me that the mask is going to go over my face. She starts to demonstrate on the doll. So that doesn’t look so bad. I take the smaller mask and first put that over the doll. The nurse encourages me to try it on myself so I do, even though I am still doubtful about this whole “mask” thing because it’s not pretty or funny looking the way masks are supposed to be. After I put the mask on the nurse wants me to practice breathing, I know how to breathe why do I need to practice? In, out, in, out, happy now? I guess she is, at least she looks satisfied. Now she is asking what flavor I want. What flavor what I plea, but no one seems to like answering my questions here. I guess I will find out soon enough. Orange I finally choose.

Next a nurse leads me down a hallway, I start skipping. At the end we get to this strange looking room, different from any I have ever seen before. They tell me to lie down on what looks like a table. I usually get in trouble for lying on tables but ok I think. The nurse now hands me a mask, it’s like the ones from before except instead of having a hole in it there is a tube connected to the mask. I put it on like the other nurse had shown me to. Wait, why does the air taste like an orange lollipop? Soon someone told me to count backwards from ten. Ten…Nine……Six…….

Monday, May 23, 2011

Six Flags!!!(and Getting French Fries)

Yesterday was my first event on REB. And with it comes quite a few good stories. First off when we arrived at the amusement park we were handed a pink sheet from the region explaining all the rules and things. OK most were easy enough to fallow requiring no real effort.

Anyway a few friends and I went on a few rides and whatever and then got hungry around noon. My friend, Jillian, and I decided we were going to get fries, a task that should be simple enough, right? Wrong. We got online and whipped out our pink sheets just to re-check the rules on Kashrut.
  • No meat
  • No hot dairy (i.e. pizza)
  • If purchasing cooked foods (i.e. French fries, pretzels, etc.), you MUST inquire about the following:
  1. has it been pre-breaded/cooked
  2. is there anything else cooked in the same batter with it
  3. what type of oil was it cooked in (can not be a meat/chicken based oil!)
As we read these three questions Jillian and I look at each other a bit skeptical, would whoever was working at the food stand even know the answer to all of these? Did people actually cook things in chicken or meat based oils? 

Jillian quickly said to me "You are asking, because I won't."

"Fine, I guess I will." I replied while think 'Great, now they will think I am crazy.'

So we wait are turns in line and when it finally is our turn to order I launch into my questions in a matter of fact sort of way, "Have the fries been pre-breaded or cooked?"

The woman looked confused, "What?"

"Pre-breaded or cooked?"

She turned around and yelled the question to someone in the kitchen. That person yelled back "Not that I know of, I am pretty sure they haven't" and the woman helping us repeated the answer. So I guess that was the right answer but not really sure at this point. 

Onwards in my quest I went "Were the fries cooked in the same batter as anything else?"

The woman, now looking at me like she was sure I was crazy and should probably be put in some sort of mental institution, answered with a reassuring "No."

One left, What type of oil were the fries cooked in?"

Starting to look pissed but keeping calm the woman asked, "Are you allergic to something?"

Taking a moment I though through different responses and the scenario that would fallow each one, finally settling on one, "Yes, I'm severely allergic to meat...and chicken."

"Oh OK then I will go check to make sure there was nothing in the same oil as the fries and make sure there is no meat in the oil." The woman said with a look shifting to more scared.

She came back with one order of fries, now her face looked relived, probably because she was done with me. I was happy though too, because I finally had my fries and a nice cold drink. 

As soon at I went back to where the other USYers were sitting they all wanted to know where I had gotten the fries, so they would not have to go through the conversation I just had, though it was rather entertaining. More six flags stories to come.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Its Time to Say Good Shabbos 'Cause All Your Work is Done

The sun is going down, its shining through the trees,
Another week's gone bye, become a memory,
So throw away your hammer, there's nothing left to do,
Go on home and find the gift that's waiting there for you.

Oh, its time to say Good Shabbos, 'cause all your work is done,
Gonna spend the day together with the Holy One,
Say a special blessing on a cup that's filled with wine,
Man and his creator its a very special sign.

Your candles will be burning, they'll fill your home with light,
Singing sings of Shabbos, well into the night,
So throw away your hammer, there's nothing left to do,
Go on home and find the gift that's waiting there for you.

Oh, its time to say Good Shabbos, 'cause all your work is done,
Gonna spend the day together with the Holy One,
Say a special blessing on a cup that's filled with wine,
Man and his creator its a very special sign.

You can spend time with your family, You'll study and you'll pray,
When i wait till after shabbos, all those nails wont run away,
So throw away your hammer, There's nothing left to do,
Go on home and find the gift thats waiting there for you.

Oh, its time to say Good Shabbos, 'cause all your work is done,
Gonna spend the day together with the Holy One,
Say a special blessing on a cup that's filled with wine,
Man and his creator its a very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very veeeerrry special sign.
In BCDS, where I went to school from K-8th grade, this song would come on the PA system at the end of the day on Friday. Everyone hated it, but it was a small reminder of the coming weekend and Shabbat. In a way I kind of miss it now that I go to WHS. Shabbat is special, it seperates one week from another and gives people a chance to stop and take time to reflect on thier week. This world is so filled with technology and appointments and commitments, we don't always get a chance to slow down and think. I know I spend my week running from one thing to another, some times I won't even get home until 10. Because of our busy everyday lives we don't always get a chance to stop and think about the effects of our actions or just stop to smell the flowers. Shabbos gives that time back to us, 25 hours to reflect on our lives and really stop and enjoy life.

I had forgoten the simple joy of shabbat, but USY has given it back to me. I now am closing my first week of this blog. I have already gotten so much out of it, it helps me reflect on my life and stop to think about my actions.

Shabbat Shalom, and I probably won't get to post again until Monday, hope to see you all at six flags before then though.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Flashback: First Regional Event (and the Making of a Mem/Kad)

So this is another flashback because we haven't done much yet on the regional board so I don't have any good stories about it yet. I also thought it was appropriate for today because Sunday in Yom Six Flags, which will be my first event while on board so I thought it is a good time to reflect back on to my first event and the road I took to get from there to here.

So as I said in my last post I went to the kickoff event my freshman year. I had recently started a new school and didn't have any of my old friends, and knowing no one I became a little shy. Anyone who knows me now will tell you that I got over that rather quickly. USY helped me get over my shyness. This is the story of how.

Cara dragged me to kickoff, it was in October of '09 and I had never been to a regional event before, and once again I was put into a situation where she was the only other person I knew. Unlike before that changed with in a few minutes. Since Cara drove me I was got there early (the board has to go to all events early), when we first got to the place, "Daddy's Extreme Sports", the place seemed a little sketchy, especially since we were the first ones there. Soon the rest of the board came and I met them one by one. And with them came one other freshman. The first thing anyone notices about this girl is usually her hair, but something else stood out to me that day, how outgoing she was.

"Hey, I'm Penina, Max's(the region president at the time) sister, what's your name?" Penina said as she reach out her hand to me (both literally and metaphorically).

I replied "Hi, I am Joan, I am from Cara's Chapter. Are you on board too?"

"No, I wish, but freshman can't be on board." She said with a smile on her face.

"Oh cool" was all I said next.

Penina and I at spring convention in our Togas. (I'm on the left and Penina is on the right)
We started to talk and I knew I was going to make alot of friend, the event hadn't even started and I already made one. Soon Dina, a friend of mine from my chapter, arrived and introduced me to some people that she had gone to camp with. But I was still a little bit shy. Dina and I stayed together for most of the time.

The next event I went to was Saturday Night Live, I still only knew a few people but by the end of the night I was exchanging cell numbers with a bunch of different kids. USY was the place where I didn't heel shy any more. I still didn't look at my self as that out going yet.

 Last week I read a post of a Facebook group called "You know you are in USY when..." and the person was saying that the think of people in terms of what board position they would be best at, one person comment that they think of mem/kads as really friendly and out going. I have always thought I was friendly enough but was never sure about that out going part. All the sudden I was scared that I had chosen the wrong position and was think twice about it. Then this week end I went on a shabbaton at a different chapter and did not know a lot of people. I didn't feel shy anymore and just started introducing myself to everyone.

About twenty minutes into the bus ride to the camp the shabbaton was at a girl turned to me and said "You are a very open person."

"I guess your right" I said with a smile and sigh of relief. Maybe I would not have been right for this board position two years ago, but now I am.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Kulanu Gradution

I am in a Hebrew high school program called Kulanu. I originally did this for USY(this is how it relates to the blog by the way) as one of the requirements to run and to be on board is to have to have a certain amount of Jewish education per week. I also joined to shut up my friend Dan, who is the immediate past IA VP (Cara's successor).

I just went to the same classes as him at first. I was lucky that these two girls, Sophie and Eden, just happen to be in both my classes. We soon became fast friends. Together we learned Hebrew, about the conflict in the Middle East, how evil relates to Judaism, and "Israel cooking" (little shout out to emissaries Anat and Aner PITA PIZZA with ketchup and kraft singles IS NOT FOOD in any country).

Anyway today was Kulanu's graduation for the senior class. It was really weird for me, people go to college every year. So why was I so emotional about it this year? Then it hit me, I have seen people graduate before but (besides Cara) I have never been that close to them, but this year I am. These kids are only two years older then me, they have been with me for half of my time in high school. Dan has been there with me through USY and Kulanu. I don't know if I would have survived USY elections with out Dan keeping me from having a nervous break down. So I would like to thank him for that and many other thinks. I will miss you. So I dedicate this post to Dan and all the other USY and Kulanu Seniors.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Flashback: Honorary Big Sister

I have a big brother and two little sisters, but I've always wanted a big sister. Cara is my big sister. I've know Cara since I was five. We became close the year I was in 8th grade, Cara was a junior at Wilton. Although I had not gone to Hebrew school(I went to a Jewish Day School) I became an aide to Cara who was the kindergarten teacher.

When I was a Freshman in high school I knew practically no one, and the few people I did know ignored me, after all I was the weird new girl. By the time i got to 4th period German I was hopeless that anything good could come of the day, but then as I was going into the classroom I looked up and saw Cara. I was overcome with a sigh of relief, finally a familiar face that would talk to me. Soon Cara had looked over my schedule telling me about each teacher with words of advice. There was then a slight bit of hope that I might just survive the day.
During my freshman year I always knew that once I got to German my day would be a little bit better. It was an entertaining class. Cara and I would speak in Hebrew and sometimes we would insert people in the class' names, we wouldn't actually talk about them but their reactions were priceless. One day a kid started yelling "They are speaking in tongues! THEY ARE SPEAKING IN TONGUES!!!!"
Our German Teacher then went on a speech about it was good we were speaking in a language other than English and how that was the whole point of the class.

Now here is where USY comes in. Cara happened to be regional Israel Affairs(IA) Vice President that year. She was also on my bus. About a few weeks into the school year before the regional kick-off event Cara turned to me one day when we were going home on the bus and said "We need to get you more involved in USY so you can find a HUSBAND." I had thought she was going to say boyfriend, I knew she was convinced to set me up, but a husband? Wasn't that a little premature? Nope I guess not for Cara, who did not want me to go out with anyone from Wilton.

Anyway I did go to kickoff and by spring I was hooked on USY and year after that spring I became the regional Mem/Kad VP. So I guess I should thank Cara. Although I have not found my husband yet, but that's OK because I am in no rush. And when I get a boyfriend don't worry Cara you will get to approve him.

Monday, May 16, 2011


The title of this post is my life is USY(yes it is stolen from facebook) because its true you can use 3 letters to sum up my life. I am finishing up my last three weeks as chapter president. I am ready to move on though and  I think two years is enough time for anyone to be chapter president. It will be a little hard because its like my baby but I hopefully will be leaving my it in good hands. Then all I will have to focus on is my new position as regional Membership Kadima Vice President. This blog will give people a glimpse of life as a USY regional executive board(REB) member. I'm not completely sure what I will write here so i guess it will be a surprise for everyone. So thats about it for now. While I'm at it I will throw in some shame less advertising, everyone should go sign up for Yom Six Flags aka Final Event you can get flyers and forms at hanefesh.org.