April 2017               seaboardusy.org

Welcome to the April  Seaboarder!
~A Lifetime Of Friendship Through USY~

Keep An Eye Out For...
A Continued Connection To Seaboard
By Micah Cowan

Branching Out
By Jessica Cohen

A Life Changing Experience
By Justin Glou

Monthly Favorites...
Israel Update: AIPAC Policy Conference
The Parents' Corner

Grades 8-12
May 26-29, 2017
Camp Louise in Cascade, MD

Grades 6-12
August 21-27, 2017
Capital Camps in Waynesboro, PA
Spring Convention 2015
Israel Update
By Matan Admi, Israel Affairs VP
Last month, over 17,000 individuals and I attended the AIPAC (American Israel Public Affairs Committee) Policy Conference to promote activism for the State of Israel. Every year, AIPAC hosts the largest pro-Israel lobby in the U.S to strengthen Israeli-American relations.
Hundreds of influential leaders gave speeches and seminars showing their support for Israel. Vice-President Mike Pence, U.S. Ambassador to the U.N., Nikki Haley, the entire Congressional leadership, and Israeli Leader of the Opposition, Isaac Herzog, are just a few of the many world leaders that attended. I had the chance to speak with many politicians and great thinkers who truly reinforced my support for the State of Israel. I spoke to Israeli Knesset member and former IDF spokesperson, Nachman Shai, about the constant demographic change in IsraeI. I also had a conversation with the Deputy Israeli Ambassador to the U.S., Reuven Azar, discussing the Iranian threat to the Middle East via their proxies.
AIPAC strongly views Israel as a bipartisan issue. Half of those who spoke were left leaning, and the other half were conservative. This greatly changed my view on AIPAC, and I cannot put into words how much of an incredible experience it was.
I remember singing lo yisa goy during Fall Convention so well that I wrote my English memoir about it! I called it "In One Voice"...I don't think my teacher got it...
#commtest  - Joe Rubin (9th grade)

"My favorite ruach song is kum kum lei lei. Not only is it cool with the three parts, but it also had a double meaning to me now. Currently I'm in Israel with my grade and on our third day when we went to Jerusalem and were on top of a mountain overlooking the city one of our teachers taught the grade the three parts of kum kum lei lei. Now every Saturday night or every time we all feel like singing we all sing that song together. It's really special because I'm reminded of USY and the country of Israel.  #commtest" - Aviva Solkowitz (12th grade)
The Parent's Corner
By Evina Denenberg, Membership Monthly Chair
Before I became a member of USY, I was very shy. I distanced myself from any kind of public speaking or volunteering, because I was not comfortable standing out in a crowd. My "safe zone" was saying and doing the same things as everyone else. I was afraid to put myself out there. However, USY has showed me that when I'm my own person, I act and feel more confident.
USY's many leadership positions have helped me become more outgoing. My jobs in particular has made me more socially confident and taught me how to reach out to people for any reason. This is something I was not willing to do before.
If it weren't for USY's welcoming, friendly, and loving community, I don't know if I would've loosened up and became more extroverted. Therefore, I am very thankful I made the decision to join USY, where I'm able to let go and learn a little about myself to truly "be myself, because everyone else is already taken."

We asked a long-term staff member, Bonnie Prissman, about the development of friendship she has seen in USYers. Here is what she said: 
Friendships in USY and Kadima are unbelievably powerful. Teens don't realize that the minute they get on a convention bus, enter their bunks, or attend their first chapter event, they will meet people who will forever change their lives. To this day, my closest friends are those I met in USY. We've been through thick and thin, and I wouldn't want anyone else by my side.  
Throughout my years as a staff member, I've seen many classes make their way through USY. They've grown up, matured, and become friends along the way. Some classes mesh more than others, but one thing remains the same-- they're all there for each other.
Although USYers might not realize it in the moment, they will miss the time spent with their second family. When alumni come back to staff, it becomes more obvious. I watch them reflect on their memories and laugh about the experiences they shared together. It's special to have a friend who listens to you, gives you a shoulder to cry on, and makes you laugh. Kadima and USY always gave teens a way to form lifelong friendships and always will.
A Continued Connection To Seaboard
By Micah Cowan, Seaboard USY Alum
Even after graduating, I continue to reflect on my time in Seaboard and still feel connected to USY. Like most seniors, I felt closer than ever to my USY family as my time in Seaboard came to a close. For me, this feeling was epitomized when I FaceTimed into the Senior Late Night and closing session of my senior Spring Convention from Tzfat, Israel. Although I was abroad with my school, I was not excluded from those pivotal moments. I was still able to participate and feel the Ruach of Seaboard emanating through the phone, across the ocean, and onto the stairs of Tzfat.
After those experiences, it was a challenge to start college. There was only one other Seaboarder from my grade going to Columbia with me, however, when faced with new beginnings, Jewish Geography is always there to help. My different Jewish outlets and connections helped me find more friends and feel at ease.
Throughout my time so far in college, my connection to USY remains alive. I spent last summer staffing USY on Wheels: East, and I am anxiously awaiting the beginning of this summer to staff another USY summer program.  Since I now live on the Upper West Side of Manhattan, I'm staffing more METNY events. However, when I'm home on breaks or after the semesters are over, I'm always there to staff Seaboard events. (I'm even kept in the staffing loop throughout the year regardless of the geographical challenge!)
One of strongest feelings Seaboard provides is friendships that endure even when they aren't physically present. While time and distance make it difficult to maintain the same close connections with my Seaboard grade, they still remain some of my closest friends, and I know we'll always be there for each other.

Phrase: נוּ כְּבָר (nu kvar)
Meaning: "come on already."
Example: "נוּ כְּבָר, why haven't you signed up for Spring Convention yet!"

Branching Out
By Jessica Cohen
Making new friends is crucial to everyone's overall USY experience, and for me, it's no different. When I started Kadima, I only hung out with the same five people I'd known since I was five. I didn't feel the need to branch out and meet new people, because I was already comfortable with the friends I had. One convention, however, I noticed a problem-- I wanted to say hi to one of my old Capital Camps friends, but she was surrounded by her own group of friends. In that moment, I had a choice: I could either go over to my camp friend and introduce myself to the group, or miss a turning point in my life by staying with my preschool friends. After making my decision, I realized that meeting new people wasn't so bad after all.
From that point on, I made it my goal to smile at one new person each day. As I grew older, I expanded my goal to become friends with at least one new person each convention. Today, I'm truly grateful that I set those goals, because I have an abundance of new friends throughout the region. I encourage everyone to step out of their tight-knit group of friends and try to talk to someone they might not otherwise be friends with; it's surprising how much all of our lives all have in common. Whether we live in North Carolina, NoVA, D.C. or Maryland, we are all joined by one common aspect, our Judaism.

            Encampment 2016                                Spring Convention 2015
Life Changing Experience
By Justin Glou
Wheels Classic is one of the best experiences that ever happened to me. Before Wheels, I was a shy kid with only surface friendships, except for a few close friends. I never realized the amazing things I could do or the beautiful places I could see. I experienced unique adventures at tourist attractions which I shared with all the friends I made. I had unforgettable laughs, cries, and moments that can't be explained. One thing I miss is whenever our bus crossed into a new time zone. Every time, we played "Time Warp" on the speakers, got out of our seats, and danced!
Those six and a half weeks allowed me to break out of my shell and make deep personal relationships with everyone around me. I will continue to live this way throughout my entire life. Without this extraordinary adventure, I wouldn't be the person I am today. I highly recommend taking a chance with USY on Wheels to see new things, make new friends, have fun, and become a better you-- you won't know until you try it!

Want an experience like Justin's? Check out the link below for more information on USY on Wheels and USY's other awesome Summer Programs!
Still looking for something to do this summer?!

For more than 55 years USY Summer Experience has provided life changing summer travel opportunities for Jewish teens. Our trip destinations include North America, Israel, Europe, and beyond, opening participants eyes to new places, new experiences, and different cultures all over the globe. Now it's your turn, see where it takes you!
Thanks so much for submitting your responses! Here's this month's #commtest question: What is your favorite memory from all of your years in Kadima and USY? Share your story in the Seaboard Region Facebook group using #commtest! Make sure to check next month's Seaboarder to see if your post is featured!