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USY teens celebrate in Boston

The Jewish Advocate
January 2, 2001

BOSTON—Members of United Synagogue Youth (USY), the high school affiliate of the United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism, came to Boston's Marriott Copley Place Dec. 24-28 to celebrate the group's fiftieth anniversary.

The convention, themed "The Call of Freedom," was USY's largest gathering in nearly 30 years. In attendance were over 1,200 representatives from almost all of USY's 400 chapters, including 200 from New England.

The convention had not been in Boston since 1991. "We very much wanted to have the convention here," said Regional Director Joyce Juda. "It brings so many kids into the community and invigorates the local chapters and gets local kids involved in a bunch of activities and committees."

That this was the fiftieth convention made it all the more enticing.

"Boston inspired the theme of freedom, so it was a good choice," Juda said. "We were able to show our members the riches of New England, from the Holocaust Memorial to the Tauro Synagogue."

The convention offered a wide array of activities and opportunities to get more deeply involved in USY and the larger Jewish community, from social action projects to a college fair to a performance by the popular Jewish musical group "Safam."

For Juda, one of the highlights of the convention was a carnival, hosted and run by convention participants for various Greater Boston youth organizations. "Over 400 kids came," she said. "It was an incredible experience, both for the kids who came in and also for our kids."

Other notable activities were a menorah lighting, speeches by representatives of Greater Boston's Holocaust survivor community and a musical procession during the opening exercises.

"Throughout the past 50 years, USY has provided a positive forum for social, educational and religious programming for thousands of teens," said USY Director Jules Gutin. He considers these conventions to be a wonderful opportunity for USY members to "share experiences and learn from each other about both the current events of today as well as the events that have shaped the Jewish people throughout the past five thousand years."

According to USY President Josh Taff, there is a benefit to the convention besides the learning and growth opportunities afforded during the convention itself. "USYers come to the convention because it's a tremendous opportunity to see old friends and make new ones from all over North America," Taff explained. "It's a great place to exchange ideas about successful USY programs." Convention Director Hila Hadani Ward noted the convention also inspires participants to take what they have learned and experienced back to their home regions, to further strengthen USY and the Jewish community overall.

"When USYers go back to their regions and chapters, they give a real boost to the level of programming and involvement in USY," Ward said. "Part of our objective is to teach the Jewish values of g'ilut hasadim, performing acts of loving-kindness for others, and tikkun olam, literally, repairing the world. It is also nice to make a positive impact on the surrounding community while teaching our youth the importance of helping others, regardless of faith or race."

© The Jewish Advocate, 2000. May not be reproduced without written permission


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