The Seaboarder
December 2016

     To continue the SA/TO theme of this month's Seaboarder , this Israel Update is about Chaim Topol. Chaim Topol is an Israeli actor who played Tevye in THE BEST Jewish musical of all time -- Fiddler on the Roof . However, Topol hasn't been in any movies since 1998, and for good reason; in 1999, Topol and some associates founded the Jordan River Village, a week-long camp serving ill children in Israel. Each child can join the village for free, regardless of religious denomination or beliefs. The village's goal is "to enrich the lives of Jewish and Arab children, in Israel and in the neighboring countries, suffering from serious illnesses and life-threatening conditions by creating free, fun-filled, memorable, empowering, medically sound and safe camping experiences."  Since opening in 2011, Jordan River Village has done just that for 600 children.
     The Jordan River Village is the only retreat center of its kind in the Middle East. 20% of its budget relies on the Israeli government, however the remaining 80% comes from donations. We should all thank Chaim Topol for ending his legendary film career in order to enrich the lives of so many sick children. Below is a link to a meaningful video about this camp.

For an added bonus in this month's Seaboarder: Seaboard Slang!!  This month's Seaboard Slang word is בלגן (pronounced balagan), which means mess. Balagan can be used to describe almost any sort of chaotic situation, from a messy room to crazy politics.
     USY has changed my life in so many unimaginable ways. Within the past year, I've grown so much as a person and expanded my horizons and leadership skills. Although it was only my fourth convention, I was given the opportunity to be a Tri-Chair for Fall Convention this year where I helped plan and lead many of the activities and programming at convention.
     Before I joined USY, I wasn't really into social activities. I was very quiet and introverted, but at my first convention, I broke out of my shell for the first time. I discovered that if I wanted to make friends, all I had to do was go up and say hi, and everyone would always respond kindheartedly. USY is the only organization I've been a part of that can make everyone feel included no matter what. Thanks to this special community, I started to leave my small little box. Over time, I became more social and extroverted which changed me for the best.
     If I had never joined USY, I don't think I would've been able to explore new activities, such as riding a roller coaster. USY's Kings Dominion Day last year was the first time I had ever ridden a rollercoaster in my life. Although I still don't like rollercoasters, I would have never tried one in the first place if it weren't for my great USY friends encouraging me.
     The main reason I enjoy coming to all sorts of events is to see my diverse group of friends who I know will always have my back. I am so thankful for my lifelong friendships, and I hope my circle of friends and leadership skills continue to grow as much as they already have.
     This month is a Social Action and Tikun Olam themed edition of The Seaboarder ! You will find an article written by Zack Sieff, Seaboard's Regional SA/TO Vice President, discussing how USY made a difference at this year's Fall Convention. Also included is an article written by Gabrielle Zwi, a USYer passionate about SA/TO not only on USY's international, regional, and chapter level, but in her everyday life as well. You will also find the monthly Parent's Corner and Seaboard Slang, along with a special SA/TO themed Israel Update!
By Zack Sieff, Social Action and Tikun Olam VP
     Seaboard USY's Fall Convention has always been very Social Action and Tikun Olam driven, with this one being no exception. On Saturday night, we had our first ever Seaboard Sailor Showcase, a mock pageant between all of the seniors with three components: an introduction portion, a senior dance choreographed by members of the Regional Executive Board and Tri-Chairs, and the all-famous talent portion. After the dance and the talent portions, USYers were given the opportunity to donate on behalf of their favorite senior performances. The two seniors who raised the most TO (Tikun Olam money) were pronounced the Seaboard Sailors. I'm honored to say that this year's Seaboard Sailors were Kurt Wilson and myself.
     On Sunday morning, we had our annual hair donation to Pantene Beautiful Lengths™ and Locks of Love™, two amazing organizations that create affordable wigs for children suffering from long term medical hair loss. Locks of Love™ particularly supports Alopecia Areata, an incurable hair loss disease that starts with one or more circular bald patches that may overlap. Through Locks of Love™, we are able to help promote the return of self-confidence and normalcy to those children provided with wigs. Pantene Beautiful Lengths™ donates wigs to the American Cancer Society which then hands them out free of charge to women battling cancer. So far, Pantene has donated over 24,000 free, real-hair wigs to the American Cancer Society's wig banks. Over the past 13 years, Seaboard Region has helped to create a ton of wigs. With well over 50 donors, we have changed and will continue to change the lives of people all over the country.
     At the beginning of Convention, we set a goal of $1,500 for TO for the weekend. Although it was not easy, by the end of convention, we not only reached our goal, but we surpassed it and made a total of $1,759.73! It was all because of the our giving, caring USY community.
     SA/TO is a huge part of our USY community, but why is that? It drives us to learn more about ourselves, each other, and the world we live on. It allows us to make a physical, influential change in the world, even if it is something small. Sometimes the smallest contributions can have the biggest impacts. Through SA/TO we can do so many amazing things that help people both inside and outside our communities, and we have fun while doing so.
By Gabrielle "Elle" Zwi, B'nai Israel Chapter President

      Music has always been my personal connection to Social Action and Tikun Olam. I began singing with my brother (who has Autism) at a very young age. It was my way to get him to sing and speak words, since he was non-verbal for a few years. My interest in singing, songwriting, and helping people like my brother lead me to write and publish a song called "Communicate". I donated the profits to support programs for young children with autism. Since then, I've been partnering with different local and global organizations that I am passionate about to write songs that fit and benefit them. I've written a song about my experience on USY on Wheels, and I just finished recording a song called "See the Change" about my experiences with SA/TO in USY!
     Outside of USY, the organization I'm most involved with is Best Buddies. Best Buddies the world's largest organization dedicated to ending the social, physical, and economic isolation of the 200 million people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. In middle school, I was the president of the Cabin John chapter, and now, I'm a member of the Walter Johnson High School Chapter. My buddy this year is Jewish and loves music, so outside of Best Buddies chapter programs, sometimes we go to Shabbat services together, or we'll just hang out and jam with ukuleles.
     For USY chapters, International USY has compiled a SA/TO Counterpart Packet, a Fundraising Guide, and a Program Bank. Many chapters focus more on raising money for USY's Tikun Olam fund, which is absolutely wonderful, but sometimes it seems like we forget about the other half of SA/TO: Social Action . It's super important to learn about the causes and organizations we are donating our Tikun Olam Fund to and discuss the issues that our world is facing today. It's also incredibly rewarding for me to go out with my USY chapter and make an impact in my local community. During B'nai Israel's IC Pre-Convention with METNY last year, we provided the option to participate in a community service project. We split into three groups, one of which went to the NIH Children's Inn, and two that went to the Jewish Foundation for Group Homes. We sang, played dreidel, made crafts, and interacted with the patients and the residents.
     There are also so many simple ways that a chapter can engage with a non-profit, or other organization, to make social action more global. Whenever B'nai Israel USY takes photos at a chapter event, we post them on Donate A Photo. For every photo shared through the Donate a Photo app, Johnson & Johnson gives $1 to a cause you care about. My chapter has also partnered with TerraCycle, an organization that turns "waste" like drink pouches and shampoo bottles into things like backpacks and textbook covers. When we sent our waste to them, they provided us with a small payment for each item, which we then put towards our chapter's TO fund. That means we were able to raise money for our Tikun Olam fund by simply eating snacks at our lounge-nights.
Want to know what is going on around our amazing region?! Check out these AWESOME USY & Kadima events coming up:
There are so many ways to get involved with your Seaboard USY chapter. Contact your synagogue's Youth Director for more information!!! 

Not sure who your Youth Director is?! Email Sasha to get connected to your chapter!!!
      Hopefully you feel caught up with the SA/TO projects happening in our region and throughout Israel, as well as a few new perspectives from USYers in our region.  Don't forget that the deadline to register for USY and Kadima Basketball Leagues is December 18th, so be sure to sign up! We are excited to see everyone for USY's 66th International Convention on December 25 in Dallas, Texas! The link to register is above!