Thursday, June 30, 2011

USY Chat

So this is a quick post about something really cool that just came out. It is called Kesher. It is a USY chat-room/forum website. Everyone should sign up right now. The more people on it the better it will be.  I am going to stop writing now so you can go sign up.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Membership Mania

This year I am going to focus on two new things. The first one is membership mania. This is a cool contest between chapters. I am putting the out line up in this post, I will put more up on how to earn points more specifically in the near future.


What is it?
            Membership Mania is a contest for chapters to compete against each other and earn points for members, programs, attendance, and other cool things.

Two Divisions:
            Unlike most awards and competitions in our region for this there will be two separate divisions. There will be a large division for the larger chapters and a small division. This is so chapters that are smaller also have a chance at winning.

Why are we doing this?
       The Hanefesh region would like to grow this year. We would also like to get existing members more active, both in their chapter and in the region. Everyone can participate and rack up points for their chapter simply by being involved. So, encourage you members to stay active, get more active, and to get their friends to be active so your chapter can win!!!

How can I/my chapter earn points?
       One plays by being a member. Chances are that you are already earning points just by having chapter programs and having members. The only difference is that now you will be rewarded for your efforts. Try having more chapter events that will earn you more points. The better and more inclusive of all aspects of USY an event is the more points you can earn. The more events you have, the more new members you gain, and the more members that come to a regional event the more points you will receive.
So get started planning awesome new events and incorporate as many members in to planning as possible. Remember: keep the regional office posted on everything you do so that we can award you with as many points possible!

Monday, June 27, 2011

Mem/Kad RGB Positions!!!

So mem/kad is clearly the best RGB in case anyone was wondering, but I will have a whole post dedicated to that. So this year I have created four awesome positions for this year's RGB.

Ice Breakers/First Timers- Helps plan ice-breakers and fist-timer programs.

Membership Mania Chair- Keeps track of what that is sent in by chapters regarding 
Membership Mania and helps keep score.

Kadima Chair-Helps with the planning of Kadima programs.

Ledger Editor- Editor of the Kadima Ledger(the new newsletter for Kadima)

So for all of you who are interested in being part of this years amazing mem/kad RGB think about which position you would lie to apply for and keep in mind you can have a first and second choice (even a third if you want). I f you would like to know more about any position mention please ask.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

USY Handbook: Summer Programs (Part 2-The WORLD!!!)

Finally I am writing the second installment of this topic sorry it took so long I have been busy with a lot USY stuff lately, which I will tell you about in my next post I just wanted to get this out of the way first. This part of summer programs focuses mostly on Israel. Hope you enjoy.

Disclaimer:As I have never been on a summer program this post is mostly taken from

Israel Pilgrimage-  Spend your summer with USY for a complete introduction to the land of Israel. You’ll be exposed to the history and contemporary realities of Judaism and Israel. Climb the fortress of Masada, explore the stalactite caves of Netifim, swim in the waters of the Kinneret, pray at the Kotel, and drink tea in a Bedouin tent on the sands of the Negev desert. You’ll experience these sights and sounds with new friends who share your love of the Jewish homeland.

Eastern Europe/ Israel Pilgrimage- Discover the unique cities of Eastern Europe, from the towering spires of Germany and the Czech Republic to the countryside of Poland. Learn about the past, present, and future of these unique Jewish communities, including visits to concentration camps.
Then spend four weeks of follow-up in Israel, discovering Jewish life and culture in the present while participating in the full Israel Pilgrimage experience*.
*Europe/Israel groups do not participate in the Gadna field training simulation.

Israel Pilgrimage/ Poland Seminar-Explore Jewish life in Poland, followed by four weeks of renewal in Israel. A full week is spent discovering the history and culture of Polish Jewry, including visits to the concentration camps of Sobibor, Majdanek, Auschwitz, Birkenau, and Treblinka. Poland Seminar also includes city tours of Warsaw, Cracow and Lublin.
After you experience Poland, spend four weeks of renewal exploring the length and breadth of Israel as you have a full Israel Pilgrimage experience*.
* Europe/Israel groups do not participate in the Gadna field training simulation.

Italy/ Israel Pilgrimage- Begin your experience with a week of travel in Italy learning about the history of Italian Jewry from the inside, exploring the amazing cities of Milan, Venice, Florence and Rome. You’ll spend the final four weeks experiencing all that Israel has to offer.
After you experience Italy, spend four weeks exploring the length and breadth of Israel as you have a full Israel Pilgrimage experience*.
*Europe/Israel groups do not participate in the Gadna field training simulation.

Israel Adventure- Have an incredibly exciting and stimulating summer in Israel. For four weeks, you’ll be exposed to the history and contemporary realities of Judaism and Israel. Climb the fortress of Masada, explore the stalactite caves of Netifim, swim in the waters of the Kinneret, pray at the Kotel, and drink tea in a Bedouin tent on the sands of the Negev desert. You’ll experience these sights and sounds with new friends who will share your love of the Jewish homeland.

Israel Adventure Plus- Spend five weeks experiencing a complete introduction to the land of Israel. Time is spent living history in Jerusalem, traveling through Haifa, hiking the Galilee, snorkeling in Eilat, and exploring the Negev. Your group will also spend a week in Gadna, a totally different experience of Israeli army training simulation. You will learn about Israel by visiting throughout its length and breadth.

L'Takayn Olam(new this summer!!!)- A four-week trip to Israel that includes both sightseeing and social action projects on a daily basis. Spend time volunteering in Haifa, Jerusalem, the Golan, with the final week focused on helping the land of Israel flourish. This program is a chance to explore the Jewish homeland and lend a hand to help make it better.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011


Hey Hanefesh, this post is for you. I know there has not been a ton of information about different things coming at you, but I will try to help. I know in the past two weeks I have been hearing questions about two things a lot: encampment and RGB. So this post will try and answer all your questions.

First off we have encampment. I really can't wait for this, it is my first encampment and I am REALLY excited.

Now on to the information. APPLICATIONS are up for Hanefesh (do not use if you are from another region)
So everyone should go and fill those out and send them in.

Next up is RGB. I know a lot of people want to apply and don't worry you will get your chance to I promise. Right now the rest of the board and I are working really hard to make sure the applications is perfect and we have the best possible positions on our  RGBs. As soon as it is perfect the application will be available to you.

Hope you found this post helpful, I hope it answered most of your questions. If you have any more questions feel free to contact me at anytime.

USY Handbook: Summer Programs (Part 1-North America)

I am done with school!!!And yesterday was the first day of summer!HAPPY SUMMER!! And this is the time of year that many USYers are packing and getting ready for summer programs. These are very cool summer programs run by USY. Here is your guild to summer programs-

Disclaimer:As I have never been on a summer program this post is mostly taken from

USY on Wheels-Spend six and a half weeks traveling coast to coast and experience North America, from sunrise on the rim of the Grand Canyon to pizza and blues in Chicago. Along the way, you’ll meet the famous mouse at Disneyland, feel a mile high in Denver, eat some fiery Texas chili, and discover a rainbow of Redwoods, Yellowstone, and Blue Ridge Mountains, as you connect with the people and places of this great continent.

USY on Wheels, Mission: Mitzvah-A unique program of USY on Wheels, Mission: Mitzvah has a full and exciting itinerary. Since this is still USY on Wheels, Mission: Mitzvah Wheelniks will have an incredible time as they enjoy many of the same touring and sightseeing components as the “Classic” Wheels program. You will see the sun rise over the Grand Canyon, take in the faces of Mount Rushmore, and enjoy all of the other exciting attractions that USY on Wheels participants enjoy, including Disneyland, Universal Studios, and the San Diego Zoo.
Mission: Mitzvah has a strong emphasis on service-learning that gives the Wheelniks a strong educational component directly related to the projects that they were doing. Each week has a different mitzvah theme, and that week all of the projects would be directly related to that theme.

USY on Wheels, Pacific North West- Capture the excitement of Seattle, the uniqueness of Portland, the beauty of Vancouver, British Columbia and the majesty of Anchorage. Explore some of North America’s most spectacular wonders of nature from Mount Rainier in Washington State to Crater Lake in Oregon to the glaciers of Alaska on a three-week adventure that will leave you transformed.

USY on Wheels East- USY on Wheels, East will cover the East coast of the United States and Canada on an incredible four-week adventure in Summer 2011.
Open to current 8th graders, highlights of the program include:
  • Toronto
  • New England
  • Cape Cod
  • Disney World
  • Washington, DC
  • Savannah, GA
  • Philadelphia
  • Kennedy Space Center
  • Touro Synagogue
  • Hockey Hall of Fame
  • Quincy Market
  • Howe Caverns
  • Virginia Beach
  • Norfolk Naval Base
  • Nashville Zoo
  • Great Lakes Science Center
  • And more!
(Itinerary subject to change.)

Summer in the City- This summer, USY, in partnership with List College of the Jewish Theological Seminary, is proud to once again offer Summer in the City. For one month, participants entering grades 11 and 12 can experience the best of all that New York City has to offer, both academically and culturally. You will learn from top instructors at the Jewish Theological Seminary and Barnard College-Columbia University, explore the rich culture and history of New York City during evenings and weekends, and experience Jewish New York, all with other teens your age in a program supervised by USY.

If you are interested in any of the above programs please look at them on of contact me and I will connected you to someone who has gone on one.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Update on Annie

First off I am sorry for not writing more hopefully on Wednesday I will have a whirlwind of new and information for you. So I would like to make a correction on a previous post about my friend Annie who entered in to Hallelujah the global singing contest. She is one of over 300 contestants but they have not chosen a finalist yet. You can help her though by voting for her at this link-

And for more information on her and the contest you can read this article-

I promise to write more after finals are over. I hope everyone has a great fathers day!!!!

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Finals!!!!!!!!!(so you get FUNNY PICTURES)

FINALS!!!One of the scariest words out there to a high school student. I am no exception to this rule I start finals on Thursday. For you this means less post and shorter post, as to make time for studying. So since I don't have time to write today I will post some funny Jewish themed pictures.

I hope you enjoyed them.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Reasons to Join USY: It's Where Services and Fun Meet

One of the many things people bring up when I am trying to get them to join USY is services. I am someone who is not fond of sitting in shul during services so I understand where they are coming from. Praying three times a day does not always sound fun, but in USY it is.

In USY we don't pray the way we do usually, there is always something fun added. There are many different themes added to services to help break them up and make them fun. Here are some examples-

Nature Service- Usually conduct in the woods. During this service you embrace nature, it may include discussions about the earth and you get to go off to your own spot to say the amidah.

Yoga Service- Always a favorite in Hanefesh, in between prayers you do different yoga poses and learn about yoga. Instead of the amidah there is usually silent meditation. This service is very relaxing.

Improve Service- In this service you get to play different improve games that relate to the prayers you are saying. This is a good choice for anyone into theater.

Harry Potter Service- Note that this can only be done Sunday mornings. You get to watch scene of Harry Potter in between the prayers.

Candy Service- While I have never actually been to this one I do know people come out with a bag of candy. This one is perfect for a sugar junkie.

Beginner's Service- Again I have never been to this one. This service is for those who would like to learn the prayers better, it will feed your inner rel/ed.

And there are more!(But you will have to come to find out)

Disclaimer: This is not a full list of all services ever done and not all services above mention are offered at all conventions.

We also always sing and dance. Praying becomes an experience at USY.

If you are still unsure let me tell you of a girl name Annie(yeah it is the one who sings). So one day me and Dan(has been IA) dragged her to spring convention. And when we went to go daven she gave me an unhappy look. So I looked at her and said, "It will be fun I promise."

She skeptically said "OK"

Anyway after we finish she turn to me now looking a whole lot happier and said "You were right praying IS fun here." The end.

Moral of the story if you give services at USY a chance you might just be happily suprised.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

The Misinformed Antisemite (Part 2)

So I said on Thursday that I would tie antisemitism in with USY. Well before I do that I would like to throw in one more thing that my counselor from camp, Amanda told me.

When I was eleven at camp someone compared a situation to the Holocaust, I was very discussed and upset by this reference, finding it completely inappropriate. I stormed off into the woods (well kind of, I was really already in the woods) and sat down with my back pressed against an old stone wall. Amanda came up to me and after hearing what had just happened she told me about a boy at Brandies(she went to school there at the time), who denied the Holocaust.

This shocked me, how on earth could someone at Brandies deny the Holocaust? She explain to me about how there would be protest after protest and nothing would work. The most important thing Amanda said was how even though you can't always change peoples minds you can at least educate them.

Going back to my previous post the person who sent me that message on formspring wasn't educated and that was their problem. And I might not be able to change anyones mind maybe I could educate them.

The problem becomes, after receiving about three nasty messages like that one every day for over a month how does one continue taking pride in their religion and not try to hide it? Thats where USY comes in, it creates a safe place for that pride to grow, and to keep people from giving up. Ruach sessions and yoga services remind me and other teens what exactly it is we are part of.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

The Misinformed Antisemite

Hope everyone had lots of cheese cake! (If not I have some still in my fridge, it's chocolate)

So I don't actually have a topic in mind to write about today but I really did want to write something after not being able to because of Shavuot for two days. But as it does one I am bored(or feel like procrastinating) once again StumbleUpon comes to the rescue. I stumbled on an article about 2 minutes ago about antisemitism in San Francisco.

To read the article go here-

I thought it was kinda of interesting but I am not going to write about circumcision(topic of article if you didn't read it but it is good so you should read it). Instead I think I will talk more about antisemitism. For those of you who do not know I spent the first nine years of my schooling at a Jewish day school, clearly sheltered against antisemitism.

At the begging of Freshman year I quickly found out I was in for a very different experience. Cara told me at the towards the start of school not to be too openly Jewish. I soon heard this from a few other people. I decided that I wasn't going to hide my religion from anyone though. I always wore(and still do wear) my necklace I got in Israel from Hodia, with a Hebrew verse written on it. I took the necessary days of school for all the holidays.

Within a week or two from the start of school a few kids started coming up to me and telling me that they are Jewish or half-Jewish. They all seemed excited to share their customs with me, but did so in a rather secretive manner. These types of people are sometimes described as "closet" Jewish, they usually are just afraid of other peoples reaction to their religion.

My first major incident with antisemitism happened when I got a formspring account(don't get one). At first it was fun me and my friends would write inside jokes and things to each other. But soon after I started the account the "questions" I was getting became mean, this is one of them-

By automatically believing what your parents told you was true even though it directly contradicts science (flood geology, radioactive dating, evolution etc etc) you are being a "wasp."

I got many things like this based on my religion. My reaction varied from post to post, some were worst then others. This one above I almost laughed at because whoever had written it is so misinformed. First off my parents don't tell me that science isn't right. I learned about evolution in school just like everyone else. And it really frustrates me when these people told me what I be levied in because it was NEVER true. Hands down the best part of this in all its stupidity was calling me a WASP. White Anglo-Saxon Protestant. I mean REALLY? Are they seriously this stupid? First harass me for being Jewish that call me a WASP? And this was only one of many messages I received from stupid people trying to tell me what I believed in and the problems with it(what they thought I believed in. This what I was dealing with, I now realized why there were "closet" Jews at my school. 

I am going to do a follow up post on this tomorrow that will incorporate USY but I am to tired for now.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

USY Handbook: Tips for a Chapter President

So after two years of being chapter president I sat down to write a letter to my successor, a bitter sweet moment. It got me thinking of my terms as chapter president. Even though I think I did a fairly good job considering I started with nothing. Knowing what I know now there are about a billion-gazillion things I wish I had done or would of done differently though. So I came up with a list of things I wish someone had told me two years ago.

1.       It’s ok to be harsh on your board members, you can’t always tell them it will be alright, so don’t baby them it will only hurt the chapter.
2.       It’s ok to give board members jobs that may not be exactly under their job description, delegation is key, as long as you don’t delegate things because you don’t want to do them.
3.       Don’t try to do everything, you are not superman and no one expects you to be, again delegate, you are only one person.
4.       Make sure you know all details of an event at least two weeks prior to the date that way you have enough time to patch up a hole in the plan if there is any.
5.       If you have a problem with someone not doing their work on time move deadlines up for that person by two weeks, that way you have time to do it without rushing.
6.       Schedule in at least two hours a week just for USY, I find it most useful to be at the synagogue on Sundays during Hebrew school and just work on USY.
7.       Checklists are amazing things, that way you can keep track of everything you need to do and what has already been done.
8.       ORGANIZATION is vital, have a system and stick to it.

There are many more but I think these are the top eight. If you have any to add please feel free to comment. Also comment if there is something you would like me to cover in a post. I hope everyone has a nice Shavuot.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Annie's Videos

So Annie just told me what her YouTube channel is so here are a few more videos of her singing.
Here is her audition video:
Here is a video of her from open mic nigh at Coal House Pizza which she was supposed to tell me about (and will tell me about if she does it again so I can be her groupie). Sorry there is so much back round noise:
This one is Annie singing a song named Mr. Shadow Man, she wrote and composed it her self, it really is amazing:

So thats it for now, I guess this is sort of groupie-ish, it will have to suffice for now anyway. Too bad I can't go to Israel to be her groupie there.

Yay New Board!!Yay BFF!!!

So I have to things I would like to cover in this post. First I would like to congratulate the new BENY USY board on their elections:

Rel/ed- Max
SA/TO- Sydney
Mem/kad- Emily (my sister is my chapter counterpart!!)
Com- Melissa
Good Luck on board I hope you all have a great year.

Second one of my best friends (we are actually 3rd generations friends too because we are just that cool)/ fellow USYer, Annie, is one of the 30 finalist in the Hallelujah- Global Jewish Singing Contest. So a huge congratulations to her on being amazing and all. She is going to get to go to Israel for 3 weeks as part of it, I am really excited for her as she had to miss our 8th grade trip.

Yesterday who ever was in NYC for the Salute to Israel Day Parade might have seen her singing on a float.
Annie on float singing One Day, by Matisyahu

I could not upload the video of her at the parade because Facebook does not let you save videos on to your computer, but on YouTube I found an old video that has her singing. This is from when we were in 6th grade she is sining a song from Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat. Annie is the second girl who sings she is wearing a black and white striped top.

So if you go to the Hallelujah concert in Israel root for her!!!!!

Saturday, June 4, 2011

The Last Night

Here I sit writing my last post as chapter president while listening to a mixture of Israeli music and 90s music. I can't believe this is it my last few hours left as chapter president not a lot left to do. Just double check the files for the next president. Write a letter to them. And then its over done. This "chapter" in my life is closing(like the pun?). Two years over. I feel like I have accomplished so much and yet nothing at all, it is a weird feeling. I have laid out a lot of ground work for the next president which is good, but I feel that I did not do enough in the present because I was so focused on preparing the chapter for the future. Only time will tell if I made the right decision I really hope I did.

So its time to let my chapter stand on it's own feet. I don't even know if that is a metaphor that applies here but I will make it because my chapter is my baby. So in the spirit of that I think this is an appropriate song for tomorrow.

Hebrew Lyrics

Hagozalim sheli azvu et haken
parsu knafayim ve'afu
Va'ani tzipor zkena nisharti baken
mekave me'od shehakol yihe beseder
Tamid yadati sheyavo hayom
shebo tzarich lehipared
Aval achsahv ze ba li kacha pit'om
az ma hapele she'ani ktzat do'eg
Uf gozal chatoch et hashamyim
tus le'an sheba lecha
Rak al tishkach yesh nesher bashamyim
gur lecha
Achshav nisharnu levadenu baken
aval anachnu beyachad
Chabki oti chazak tagidi li ken
al tid'agi beyachad kef lehizdaken
Uf gozal….
Ani yode'a shekacha ze bateva
vegam ani azavti ken
Aval achshav ksheba harega az
machnik ktzat bagron
Uf gozal….

English Translation


My chicks left the nest
spread their wings and flew away
I am an old bird left in the nest
I hope that all will be well
I always knew the day will come
to say good bye
But now when it is here
no wonder I am worried

Fly away chick cut the sky
Fly where ever you want to
Just don't forget there is an eagle in the sky
be aware

Now it is only us in the nest
but we are together
Hug me tight say yes
don't worry it is fun getting old together

Uf gozal….

I know it is the way of nature
I left a nest as well
But now when the time comes
I feel a lump in my throat

Uf gozal….
I just want to end by wishing good luck to all candidates in tomorrow's election.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

USY Handbook: Chapter Election Process

So here is a post about the election process that goes on in my chapter. This does vary from chapter to chapter and region so it may be different from yours. I am tired so this is just the instructions I gave to each of my board members to help them conduct the elections for their board position. Note it is also missing a few steps sorry really want to go to sleep.

1.      Ask for nominations
2.      Once there is a nomination ask for someone to second it
3.      Repeat step 1-2 until no nominations are left
4.      Call candidates in alphabetical order for speeches (2 minutes for VP candidates 4 minutes for presidential candidates.
5.      If only one candidate go to step 6, if more skip to step 8
6.      Call for a vote be acclimation if no one opposes announce the winner and finish
7.      If someone opposes vote by a closed ballot where people vote either “in favor”, “opposed”, or “abstain” then see step 9
8.      Have a closed ballot where people write the names of the candidate they are voting for
9.      For a candidate to win they must possess 50% of all votes
10.  If a candidate wins announce if not move to step 11
11.  If only one candidate was running no one will assume office at given time, if more than one candidate was running then move to step 12
12.  Eliminate the person who received the least amount of votes and repeat steps 8-10(run-off election)

    Wednesday, June 1, 2011

    Bomb Threats and Such

    I am really tired and had actually planned another very USY related post, but I will save that for tomorrow. I figured this would be fast and entertaining.

    Robot games+ teteris in German class= awesome and entertaining

    Trigonometry+lack of oxygen = nurse's office

    Bomb threat=30 minutes in the hot out doors+ possible having to stay at school late to make up missed class time

    Picture of people going back in after it was over, Picture from Wilton Villager 
    So those are a few of the interesting things in my day.

    Just to end on a more USY related note-

    Save the date for Quad Regional Encampment, August 16th-21st!!!!!!!!!!!!!!