By Steven Zeitler, Youth Director, Temple Emeth, Chestnut HIll
and Julian Hyman, USY parent and past Director of Youth Programming at Temple Emeth
The International Convention is the largest annual gathering for United Synagogue Youth. This year it will be held in Boston from December 23-27. The convention includes study sessions, specialty club meetings, summer program reunions, socializing with old and new friends and the election of the next year’s USY international officers. But most importantly, it provides USYers with a sense of pride while truly grasping their Jewish identities thru interacting with Jewish kids from all over North America.
What does it mean for parents? It offers parents the opportunity to volunteer their time as chaperones and to watch their children develop and grow as young Jewish adults. Parents can really benefit from an experience like International Convention because it allows them to understand the positive effects that USY evokes on Jewish children.
To really show the impact International Convention can make, former Youth Programming Director of Temple Emeth and proud USY parent, Julian Hyman, provided his insight on his experiences with the IC:
“As the parent of two former Emeth USYers, both of whom are currently college students, I have been exposed to the phenomenon called USY International Convention (IC) for the past six years.
“My children attended every IC during each of their four years of high school. Besides the obvious benefits of having them spend a safe, well chaperoned week over winter break in different locales including Boston, Anaheim CA, Washington DC, Chicago, Orlando, and Philadelphia, both of them grew in many ways from the IC experience. The opportunity for them to spend a week with Jewish peers their own ages, living together, socializing, studying, dancing, and experiencing Shabbat as a part of a large teen community, goes beyond words.
“My kids still talk about these trips and the friends they made in USY. My wife and I are convinced that these experiences prepared them for living Jewish lives while attending college. They now seek out other Jewish kids through Hillel and Chabad programs and have met kids from all over the US who attended the very same conventions.
“I recall the first convention that our daughter attended as a ninth grader, in Boston in 2006. My son, then in seventh grade, was allowed to view the opening ceremony. From that two-hour exposure to the excitement of a convention, he was hooked and begged me to let him attend conventions thereafter. I had the pleasure of chaperoning the Boston convention for a few hours at the hotel – I say pleasure because it’s a ‘WOW’ experience to watch and listen to that many Jewish teens all in one venue.
“It is clear to me now, that all of the kids who attend these conventions are the future and future leaders of our Jewish community. They understand the meaning of community and have developed a stronger Jewish identity by virtue of attending these conventions. I urge you to encourage your teens to attend any and all future conventions and invite your children in gades 6-8 to attend opening ceremonies at this year’s convention, and please feel free to tag along. You will be thrilled that you did!”
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