If you are reading this, you're probably a part of "AZA & BBG, The Teen Movement," but I think most of us forget the larger movement we're all a part of.
Recently, I joined a group of teens from BBYO's global order and embarked upon a journey to Kyiv, Ukraine.
During our trip, we visited museums, learned about the Jewish community in Ukraine, and attended Active Jewish Teens (AJT) IC. It was wondrous to meet teens just like us from the Former Soviet Union (FSU), fighting to keep the legacy of their ancestors alive.
There were some somber moments, like our expedition to Babi Yar with meaningful prayer led by song leaders Happie and Eric under the powerful backdrop of Rabbi Meir's story surrounding the destruction of Jews in that very location. However, Ambassadors to Ukraine was more about the renaissance of Jewish life in the FSU, and how we can help support and stimulate that revitalization. The experience was truly once-in-a-lifetime. We explored together alongside our brothers and sisters from the other side of the world, we were inspired by one another, grew together, and we felt united.
Yet eight days of New Balance and Adidas tracksuits later, I find myself back at home in the same routine of school, homework, and some more homework. I'm no longer sitting with a group of ambitious teens eager to change the world, supported by top Jewish professionals from around the globe. Instead, I'm back in class learning regular things with ordinary teens who all live but a few miles away in my small Long Island suburban community.
Despite being home, I find myself with a new and broadened perspective on challenges facing the Jewish community near me and around the world. I have real first-hand experience (a primary source for all you history buffs) about Jewish life in places where the global Jewish Renaissance is still very much in its embryonic stage. It's subtle, but I find myself asking more questions than before: Most importantly, how can we help?
Judaism in the FSU is being reborn right before our eyes. Teens there don't have the luxury of multi-generational traditions to guide them in their faith or abundant synagogues and well-established Jewish centers itching to bring them home. They are crafting the communities; they are inciting change, leading the revolution, and interrupting the status quo.
The reality is, only a few of us went on this adventure. And we can't do it alone — but thanks to all of you, we didn't have to. I didn't fly across the world to Ukraine by myself. I went with voices of encouragement from my home region, our movement globally, and millions of our relatives, thirsty for the empowerment of our people in an area of the world where we have endured an immense trial.
We must support the genuine Global Jewish Movement. That can only happen tomorrow if we truly unite today. And luckily for us, Tomorrow Happens Here.
Max is an Aleph from Chazak AZA in the Nassau Suffolk Region
All views expressed on content written for The Shofar represent the opinions and thoughts of the individual authors. The author biography represents the author at the time in which they were in BBYO.
Come along with me and experience the amazing time I had at IC, day by day.
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