Throughout my JCC Boston Diller Teen Fellowship experience, the word “leader” has become more meaningful and relatable. In March, our Boston-Haifa Diller cohort of Fellows had the unique opportunity to run a Shabbaton (weekend retreat) completely on our own. This “Self-Management” weekend meant that 40 teenagers from across the globe were working together to run our own Fellowship experience for the weekend.
At first we were all extremely excited; this opportunity had rarely been given to other Diller cohorts before, and it was incredible to be given this much responsibility as teenagers. We all had to figure out how a group of teens, Americans and Israelis, were going to put together a whole weekend of activities and achieve our goals for a successful Shabbaton.
Once the reality of planning and preparing set in I realized how extremely hard I would personally have to work to be successful; everyone’s efforts mattered and people were relying on me. Time differences and cultural barriers proved to be quite challenging! In creating the closing ceremony, our greatest challenge was making a schedule that would work with the time we had. It was difficult to communicate with the Israelis because of logistical issues, but we finally all decided together what exactly we wanted the closing ceremony to include and then the Americans set the time frame for each part of the ceremony. Following that, we faced another challenge; what we wanted to say. The challenge here wasn’t so much having trouble discussing, but rather deciding what we would talk about out of all the amazing experiences we had.
In Diller we are given so many unique opportunities and experiences that choosing one to share is almost impossible. To solve our problem, we asked several fellows to talk about an experience that was especially meaningful to them, as well as a challenge they face and how they were able to overcome it, to really show the differences in people and the differences we can make. In the end, we were able to organize our ideas and programs to implement a successful (and very fun) weekend, and to reflect on the difficulties that came from working across the globe with our Haifa friends. I have realized that being a leader offers both challenges and opportunities, and no matter how difficult a challenge may seem to overcome it is important to never give up and have faith in yourself and the people around you. The staff completely stepped back and allowed us to shine that weekend and gave us space to face our own challenges as mature, growing leaders. We still all have space to grow, but we are definitely on the right path to be the best leaders we can be.
Sierra Weiss, age 15, Newton
JCC Boston Diller Teen Fellow 2011-2012