March 2017     

Welcome to the March  Seaboarder!
~The Jewish Connection~

Keep An Eye Out For...
A View From Two: What It Is Like To Be Part of USY and BBYO
By Jacob Kalman

Few But Mighty: Growing Up Jewish in North Carolina
By Eliana Davis

I Am Not Ashamed: The Story of My Judaism
By Jordana Gruber

Monthly Favorites...
Israel Update: African Israelies
The Parents' Corner
Basketball Playoffs
April 2, 2017
Wootton High School in Rockville, MD

April 30, 2017

May 26-29,  2017
Camp Louise in Cascade, MD                                                                                                                                                                                                                 Kings Dominion Day 2015
Israel Update
By Matan Admi, Israel Affairs VP
The first time my Israeli father visited America in 1982 was also the first time he saw a black man.  There were very few Africans in Israel until Beta Israel, a series of covert operations, run by the Mossad (Israel's equivalent to the CIA), to rescue masses of Ethiopian Jews from Ethiopia and refugee camps in Sudan. However, life in the new land wasn't easy for them. Although they were introduced to great things such as electricity and running water, they also experienced a cultural shock and some racism from the Israeli community. In addition, many Israeli orthodox refused to acknowledge that Ethiopian Jews were Jewish at all. 
As the years progressed, the vast majority of Israelis began to accept that Ethiopian Jews are, in fact, Jewish. Making up 1.75% of the Israeli population, Ethiopian Israelis even serve as members of the IDF. They continue to feel increasingly confident and at home in the Jewish state while still maintaining their unique heritage and culture from centuries of living in Ethiopia.
"My favorite Seaboard USY memory was at Fall and it was like 3 o'clock at night and Sasha walked into the room while I was pacing and I dove behind a bunk bed even though she saw me!" -Talia Armoza, 9th grade

"My favorite memories are from my first Encampment. I would always make it a priority to watch the sunset and the stars come out. One of my favorite nights was when I went to a late night event (I forget which one it was) with a new friend at the time and at the end we went to the hill outside of the retreat center and laid down in the grass stargazing and a shooting star passed by. I remember making a wish with my friend. Surprisingly, that wish came true." -Deanna Sterling, 12th grade

The Parent's Corner
By Lilly Shankman, SSL Band Leader
My most memorable religious experience occurred this past summer at Encampment 2016. That was the moment I put on tefillin for the first time. I had never before felt the desire to try such a thing, but after my best friend suggested we do it together, I couldn't come up with a reason not to. When we wrapped together, there was something special. The experience set us apart from the normal community and common standards. Being the granddaughter of a Holocaust survivor, I grew up hearing stories of how my grandmother was forbidden to do so many things in the Jewish community. The fact that I could wrap tefillin is proof of how far Judaism has come in such a short time. In the past, my grandmother often heard the phrase, "no you can't," but I'm proud to stand here with my tallit on and tefillin wrapped, saying YES I CAN.
We asked Regional Youth Director, Sasha Bloch, about the influence that Judaism brings to USYers. Here is what she said: 
Over the years, it has been unbelievably fulfilling to watch Seaboard USYers develop their Jewish identity through friendship, leadership, community, and ruach. In the past year alone, I have seen...
  • USYers learn new services so they can lead their community in prayer.
  • A weekend made of memories in North Carolina as USYers and Kadimanicks share their hearts and souls to a traditionally non-Jewish area.
  • USYers enrich their friends' connection to Judaism as well as their own by passionately leading Creative Shacharitot.
  • Fellowship programs, USY Summer Programs, and policy conferences strengthen our connection to Israel.
  • Underclassmen inspired by the ruach of their older peers
I Am Not Ashamed: The Story Of My Judaism
By Jordana Gruber, Membership Committee
For the longest time, I was embarrassed to be Jewish. Although I live in a fairly Jewish area, only a few of my school friends are Jewish. I can't read Hebrew, and it has always been difficult for me to lead prayer services and read from the Torah. However, the year I joined Seaboard Kadima was the year I became more in touch with my Jewish identity and stopped being ashamed.
Slowly as the years went on, I began to pick up more and more Hebrew. As I grasped the prayers, ruach and sloach songs, and even some fun catch phrases, the encouragement I got from my friends and staff members always pushed me to learn more. I know my younger brother also feels a little overwhelmed when he doesn't know all of the words to the prayers, so sometimes he's afraid to participate, just like I was. However, not knowing the words didn't even matter to me when I was standing on a chair screaming ruach with my best friends until I had no voice left.
I spent this past summer on USY's Israel Pilgrimage/Poland Seminar trip. By the end of those five weeks, I was able to lead my own ruach sessions and even run a prayer service! So yes, it was a process getting to where I wanted to be with my Judaism, but I never would have gotten there without Seaboard USY.
Phrase: חבל על הזמן (chaval al ha zman)
Literal Meaning: "waste of time"
Slang Definition: a fantastic time
Example Sentence: "The restaurant was חבל על הזמן. They served the best kosher pizza I've ever had!
Few But Mighty: Growing Up Jewish in North Carolina
By Eliana Davis
Growing up Jewish in North Carolina has its ups and downs. I am part of a very small community that is strong at the center, but weaker everywhere else. Since fifth grade, I have spent one month each summer at Camp Ramah Darom in the mountains of Georgia, surrounded by praying Jews, kosher meat, and peaceful Shabbats. Throughout the rest of the year, however, it is harder for me to regularly practice Judaism. My family keeps kosher, but with only limited chicken products at Trader Joe's and once a month meat orders to my synagogue, it's essentially a vegetarian diet. Going to synagogue regularly is also a challenge, as it is a half an hour away from my house. There are no sports leagues inside or outside of school without Saturday games and events.
USY has given me a way to connect with the greater Jewish community throughout the year. I go to conventions, keep Shabbat, and eat Kosher meat with my USY friends and family. Even after months away from my USY friends, when I get to a convention, we jump right back to where we left off. We are able to discuss similarities in our lives as Jews, which is especially meaningful to me coming from a community in which we are a minority. I love the relationships I've made, and I'm always looking for opportunities to come visit them. USY gives me the devoted Jewish community that I don't always experience down in North Carolina.

            Encampment 2016                                Spring Convention 2016
A View from Two: What It Is Like To Be Part Of Two Jewish Youth Groups
By Jacob Kalman
USY and BBYO each have their own special place in my heart, and both have strengthened my connection to Judaism in their own way. When I first joined Seaboard USY and Kadima in 6th grade, I thought it was a cool place to meet new people and participate in activities. In the past year, USY has helped me connect to my Jewish identity. I've been able to take away something meaningful from the lively programming at conventions. Not to mention, learning about Judaism and praying in USY have enhanced my closest friendships.
I also feel a sense of Judaism in BBYO, however it's focused more on making friends than learning about and experiencing Judaism.
I feel a healthy balance between hanging out with other Jewish teens and experiencing the spiritual side of Judaism because of my experiences in both USY and BBYO. Both of these groups allow me to enjoy my time in high school while giving me different opportunities to find the importance of my religion.
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's your favorite sloach song and memory? Share your story in the Seaboard Region Facebook group using the hashtag #commtest!  Check back next month in the Seaboarder to see if you are featured!