A Familiar Place

SWUSYite, Joy Meyers shares her experience with USY.

USY. My home away from home. I started USY my freshman year and I’m sort of sad I didn’t join sooner because it’s slowly coming to an end. Everyone always tries to tell you to join and you will love it, it gets kind of repetitive. I’m here to tell you about my USY experience.

I will be the first to tell you, I really didn’t want to join. I was sort of forced into it by my friends, Bayle Goldman, and Lauren Suchoff. My first convention was Fall Kallah 2016. My first memories include ruach being very culty, a little girl, Kira, jumping around, and the way everyone instantly accepted me. I remember how scared I was to go to my first convention because I don’t really do well with new people, in other words, I’m shy, I still had fun. The day I got home I asked my mom to sign me up for the next convention.

My second convention was Spring Kallah 2017. When my mom dropped me off in front of the Synagogue, about 6 people ran outside to give me a hug even though I had just met them once before. Since we had host homes I got the chance to meet more people than I had at Fall because I was with different people. We went to the ice rink in the Galleria Mall and played hockey. We had lots of laughs when everyone slipped and fell even though it hurt.

I didn’t get to go to Regionals in 2017 since I was having my Bat Mitzvah, but everyone was very supportive. I was scared people would feel as if I wasn’t a good jew for being 15 and not yet being a Bat Mitzvah, but everyone wished me luck and congratulated me. Everyone was trying to find a way to get me to go to Regionals but since it was in San Antonio and I live in Houston, I didn’t have a chance.

USY has given me the experience to meet so many other Jewish teens my age across Texas and even Oklahoma, and a chance to travel to places I have never been. This summer I am going to Oklahoma for Regionals and I will be Co-Chair for the first time.  USY has given me so many opportunities for my future. I get the chance to plan out a convention and lead programs, giving leadership and planning skills. 


REC Speaks Up: How Anti-semitism is Affecting Us






On Saturday, October 27, 2018, a horrible tragedy has struck the Jewish community during Shabbat
services: a shooting at the Tree of Life Or L’Simcha synagogue in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. 11 people were killed, and six more were wounded, including four police officers. The suspect, Robert Bowers, is already in custody. This was a hate crime. Bowers targeted the synagogue because he is Anti-Semitic.

This event is very scary because it makes me think about how this could have happened to any one of us. The threat of anti-Semitism weighs heavily on me. As someone who goes to services often and helps out at the Hebrew School, I am constantly worried that something might happen to my friends or family. Anti-Semitism is a prevalent issue in our society, even though it seems like the world has gotten more tolerant.

Anti-Semitism seems to be getting worse with the emergence of more white supremacists and the creation of alt-right groups. For this reason, it is important to know how to respond to people that may say Anti-Semitic things toward you.

If someone says something hateful directed towards you, ask them why they think that way. If you
understand their thought process, it is easier for you to give them facts. Also, listening to them helps
them feel that you care about what they have to say. If they see that you are empathetic, their opinion of you may change for the better because you are defying the stereotypes they were led to believe. If you feel as though you are in danger from the way someone is speaking to you, tell someone immediately. Let someone know how you are feeling so the situation can be handled effectively. The most important thing is to be safe. No conversation should be put above your safety.

Be careful, my friends.



Denomination ‘Drama’ by EMTZAnik Jake Klaiman

  Jews across the world have always had an interesting relationship with each other. Jewish Communities across the nation are as tight-knit as sardines in a can. Seriously, my grandma has had the same Jewish friends she has gossiped with since she was 10, and she’s 71. I have had the same best friends since I was three for crying out loud, and they’re all from my Jewish preschool. Even with this close bond that all Jews feel towards one another, there is some disconnect still. Despite our similarities, despite our similar traditions, despite our same Torah, despite the same belief in Kadosh Baruch Hu, Jews across denominations hate each other.

  This is not a new conflict, or even a new idea. In the bible, the story of the golden calf. Some Jews didn’t believe or trust Moses, so they worshipped a golden calf and got swallowed. In the 2nd Temple Era, Jews hated each other. It says G-d let the temple be destroyed because there was a sense of bitter hatred for Jews against fellow Jews. The idea of a superiority complex among denominations is not a new trend, nor is one that is dying either.

  So you may be wondering, reader somewhere out there, why I chose this topic. Simple, there is too much bitter hatred within the teenage Jewish Community. Over the past few months, some people in different Jewish youth groups came into the USY Facebook page to cause ruckus. There was no purpose of these kids to be in these Facebook groups besides to cause ruckus. USYers across the board were appalled and saying things like “I can’t believe how stupid and immature some people are” and “Baruch HaShem I’m not in that youth group.” Over the summer on USY Israel Summer Pilgrimage (EEIP G6 2k15 #victory), kids in my group would talk trash about the different youth groups at the hostel. How they would dress, how they would talk, how they would act to each other, every small detail of their day was scrutinized by the wannabe FBI agents of my trip. Why did my trip do this? No idea, but I know that those trips were doing the same thing to us. Why were they doing that to my trip? No idea, but it wasn’t out of retaliation. we were all just being hateful for no reason besides the fact that they were different.

  Being different is good, but not all Jews believe so. On my trip, I experienced something I never could have imagined in my life. I have grown up in the incredible Conservative Judaism Community of Suburban Minneapolis my entire life. When I came out as gay back in 2012, it was no big deal at all. Everyone was supportive, no questions asked. As a Jew in Israel, I felt safe at every corner, besides this one day. This day, our trip was at the most beautiful hostel in the north. It could’ve been a box, but hey it was at least nicer than the place we stayed at in Eilat. That night on the trip, I called my mom to be the good Jewish boy she raised me to be. During my conversation, I was called out onto the balcony by my good friend. For the sake of the stories, I will make up names. Let’s call this boy Bob. Bob came into my room and said “Hey Jake, come out here! They want to meet you!” Confused, but trusting Bob, I stepped outside my room to be greeted by another teen from a more religious youth group. I introduced myself as any polite Minnesotan would do. As I was introducing myself, this girl, let’s call her Sarah, says “That’s him!” At this point I was beyond confused and said “Sarah, what’s going on?” Her response made me feel like I was powerless, small, endangered, and just defeated. Nonchalantly, she replied “oh Jake they just wanted to meet a real live gay person!”

  “This is him?” said the teen from the other youth group. “You are gay?” To which I instantly responded with “no” as I thought I saw my life flashing in front of me. Sarah, may the Lord bless her, peeped up and spurted out “Oh Jake, don’t lie! Yeah he’s gay.” The response this teen had was so unexpected I couldn’t believe it. After threatening me that he was going to beat me, kill me and my family, and burn our bodies, he spat on my face and tried to throw the first punch. Lucky for me I have three brothers and have dodged a fair share of punches in my life. I ran into my room, locked the door, and started to cry.

  This entire situation could have been avoided, easily.

  If Sarah respected me or my safety enough, she wouldn’t have said anything. If that boy  didn’t hate me on some preconceived notion that in leviticus 18:22 tells him that I am an abomination, I wouldn’t have felt the way I have. But self hating Jews don’t just appear on a violent level.

  Across the United States, Jews use different denominations as insults to other Jews. “Oh you’re practically orthodox so it doesn’t count that you like to pray” or  “Oh Reform Jews are basically Christians praying in Hebrew.”

  We hate each other. The effects seem irreversible, but it starts with us. We need a reality change. We, as leaders wherever you may be reading this, must see this and stand up to the Jew-on-Jew hatred. Do not let some obnoxious kids ruin your view on the Reform Communities. Don’t let some hate crime caused by a Modern Orthodox ruin your view on more religious people. Also, don’t let some girl’s lack of thinking ruin your views on Conservative Jewry. A radical minority doesn’t represent a moderate majority. Please though, if we ever want a temple, or at least a kehila kedosha that will last unlike the 2nd one, we need to start getting along more. Stop judging someone based off of their denomination. Martin Luther King Jr. once said “I have a dream that one day, people will not be judged by the color of their skin, but rather the content of their character.” Well I have a dream, one day all Jews will get along, no matter their denomination. It starts with you, it starts with me, it starts today, it starts together. Thank you.

-Jake Klaiman, 11th Grade, Adath USY, EMTZA

The Arab-Israeli Conflict: Why It’s Important by BZUSY Kadimanik Madison Nadler

This piece was written by Kadimanik Madison Nadler of BZUSY. She wrote it as a Historical Paper entry for a contest and won! Congrats Madison!

I regret to say that Appendix I and II mentioned in Madison’s article could not be attached to this post due to technical difficulties. -Bayle G.

Bombs, prejudice, and terrorism.  Many are familiar with the words, but how many have experienced their effects first-hand?  For years, Judea was a safe country for the Jewish people, until they were expelled by the Romans, forcing them to explore the continents for a new place to call home.  Years later, in search for a land to expand their culture, the Arabs took over Judea, which had been renamed Palestine after the Jews’ expulsion.  Centuries succeeding, after the Holocaust, the Jewish people came back and claimed that Palestine was rightfully theirs. This resulted in the encounter known as the Arab-Israeli war for Israel’s independence.  Both sides exchanged prejudice, violence, persecution, and thousands upon thousands of casualties. Even today they continue to share these things. 

Judea was often ruled by one empire or another.  Most notably, the Romans.  The people of Judea revolted countless times against their oppressors, and Herod (proclaimed “King of Judea” by the Roman Senate) was no different.  “Of all the multitudinous peoples who constituted the Roman world, the Jews were undoubtedly the most difficult for the Romans to govern.  Herod repressed the outbreaks against his authority with bloody fury… After Herod the Judeans continued to restive under Roman rule.”  It wasn’t until approximately 73 C.E., that the Romans expelled the Jewish people from Judea (Diaspora).  Thus, leaving them to explore the continents in search for a new homeland.  Meanwhile, the rest of the population in Judea, which consisted of a few idol worshippers and Arabs, were left under Roman control.  Because Judea was surrounded by numerous Arab empires, many Arab people began to gradually migrate to Judea to explore land to expand their culture.

Despite popular opinion, there was indeed a time when the Jewish and Arab people lived alongside each other in peace.  This was during the nineteenth century when the Ottoman Empire ruled over Palestine.  It wasn’t until years later when the British began its rule over Palestine that tensions arose.  The first complication the British seemed to have was the fact that they had promised bits of Palestine to too many groups of people.  They planned to have a piece of land for themselves, the French, the Meccans (Muslims who had an established home in Mecca), and the Zionists (Jews who wished to establish a homeland in Israel).  In fact, on November 2, 1917, British Foreign Secretary Lord Arthur James Balfour wrote a letter to Lord Rothschild, a Zionist, declaring that Britain had officially secured a home for the Jewish people in Palestine; “His Majesty’s Government view with favour the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people, and will use their best endeavors to facilitate the achievement of this object…”.  However, the British had decided to segregate the Arabs, Jews, and Christians into three different institutions, resulting in the three sects not getting along and for tension to be at an all-time high.  Their second mishap, was amid 1920-1939, in which the Brits attempted to honor the Balfour Declaration by raising the Jewish population to 30%.  Per contra, the British actually ended up violating the Balfour declaration by unlawfully evicting Palestinian residents from their homes to accommodate the rise in Jewish residency; “…it being clearly understood that nothing shall be done which may prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine or the rights and political status enjoyed by Jews in any other country.”.  The Palestinians were very upset by the sudden threat of being cast out of their homeland and revolted against the British.  In 1933, the Brits slowed down Jewish immigration immensely, which was especially frightening for the Jewish people, because anti-Semitism was at an all-time high in Europe.  Because of all the discontent and conflicting views, the UN came up with a plan that even today serves controversy.  This plan was created on November 29, 1948 and was called the UN Partition Plan, more humbly known as the two-state solution.  Appendix I depicts a map of the geographical layout of the UN Partition Plan.  This so-called solution suggested that Palestine was to be divided into two states, an Arab state and a Jewish state.  The problem with this arrangement was that the way it was depicted on the map made it look extremely complex, and the Jewish people were unjustly given a much larger percentage of land.  Naturally, the Palestinian people were outraged at this.  Their country was slowly being taken from them, and soon, it felt, that their entire lives would be taken slowly from them as well.     

May 14, 1948, Britain relinquished its hold on Palestine (British Mandate had ended), and gave control to the UN.  This caused the Jews to immediately declare Israel’s Independence, resulting in the first Arab-Israeli War.  After the war for Israel’s Independence, Israel came out victorious and the UN decided to award Israel even more territory than originally envisioned in the Partition Plan.  Appendix II depicts a geographical layout of Israel’s land after its independence.  This only left the West Bank, Eastern Jerusalem, and the Gaza Strip for the Arab population.  This led over 700,000 Arab people to become refugees.

Years later, during 1967, June 5-10 became known as the Six Day War.  The war was a result of Israel launching a preemptive strike against Egypt, eventually leading to Israel, Egypt, Jordan, and Syria to all be involved in this war; ultimately leaving Israel victorious.  This encounter gained Israel control of the Sinai Peninsula, Gaza Strip, East Jerusalem, West Bank, and the Golan Heights.

It wasn’t until 1993 that Israeli and Palestinian leaders came together to negotiate the Oslo Declaration, which was made to establish peace by ending the violence and revolts by Palestinians who wished for Israeli occupied areas (won after Six Day War) to cease their occupation there.  It was also made to establish a self-government for Palestinians, specifically in West Bank and Gaza.

The West Bank and Gaza are now self-governed, however, they are unlawfully occupied by Israeli soldiers.  This is partially due to Fatah and Hamas, two terrorist groups that have based themselves in the West Bank and Gaza and are in control of the Palestinian government.

Even today, Israelis and Palestinians are still fighting about whether or not Israel belongs to the Jews or the Arabs, and whose fault the conflict is.  For some, this argument is based from a land standpoint.  A view based purely on the geography and power that comes with owning this small piece of land.  Those who were once wealthy, but then robbed of their home, land, and livelihood.  For others, it has a more spiritual tie.  Israel, home of Jerusalem, is a very religiously significant country for many different types and sects of religion.

Along with the arguments, are the several acts of terrorism, prejudice, hate, violence, and death hailing from both Israel and Palestine directed towards each other.  Bystanders are often blown up by suicide bombers who have hidden within a large crowd, citizens will be unlawfully shot by soldiers, the people who are supposed to protect them the most. People are spit on by others based on where they are from or what they believe in, threats made against people in the street are based on what that person stands for, men and women who are refused service all because of who they are.  These exchanges seem to be commonplace in a society so filled with controversy.

Subsequent to the Holocaust, many Jews fled Anti-Semitic Europe with haste.  During the Holocaust, the Jews’ homes, jobs, friends, family, and lives were all taken from them forcefully.  With no place to go, they were forced to explore the world yet again to have a new beginning.  A large sum of them moved to Palestine, in hopes of reconnecting with their Holy Land.  Over time, small Jewish communities were built, and the consensus between them was that the Jewish people needed a national home to prevent another tragedy like the Holocaust from happening.  Palestine became their safe place.  In the Jewish people’s eyes, they are entitled to Israel specifically because of the historical and religious significance it holds to them.  It goes as far and as literal as G-d promising Israel to the Jewish population: “That day ADONAI made a covenant with Avram: ‘I have given this land to your descendants…’”.  This would instinctively entail for the Jews to inevitably fight for what they believe is their land.

The typical Israeli beliefs are as follows:  Israel won all of its land fairly during its efforts in the several Arab-Israeli Wars throughout history, and under no means should be forced to return any of it to the Palestinians; despite any of the awful things that happened to them under Britain’s reign.  There is no excuse for the inexplicably horrid acts against Israel by Hamas and other Anti-Israeli terrorists based in Palestine or otherwise.  The encounters that have led to thousands upon thousands of deaths due to acts of terror in the form of bombings, shootings, stabbings, etc. are unforgivable and will result in consequence.  Israel was given to the Jews by G-d, and Israelis have every right to be there.  Israeli soldiers have the right to occupy Palestine because Palestine is a threat to Israel.  The Israelis are the victims, they lost everything and are only now getting it back.  Israel is the established home for the Jewish people, and the only safe place for Jews to thrive.  That home will not be taken away, and Israel will defend itself under any circumstances with any means necessary.

However, these values are not shared by everyone.  The Palestinian point of view is quite contradictory to the Israeli point of view.  The Palestinians were forcefully expelled from their homes, jobs, and eventually country to make room for the increasing Jewish population by the British officials who were occupying Palestine at that time.  They involuntarily had to become homeless, jobless, and lose simple pleasures they once had.  After Israel’s Independence (along with many other Arab-Israeli Wars), many lived in refugee camps with horrible living conditions as they had no other place to go.  Even now, Gaza and West Bank are in terrible poverty.  The Arabs feel entitled to Palestine because they feel the British unjustly removed them from their homeland.  They also have religious ties to Jerusalem.

The general Palestinian beliefs are as follows:  Israel is not called Israel, it is called Palestine; and Palestine is the Palestinian homeland.  The millions of people who were displaced and had their homes, businesses, and places of worship reduced to rubble need to be avenged and deserve to be placed back in Israel.  The Jews/Israelis are the terrorists, they attack constantly.  Despite winning the wars, the Jews did not rightfully gain any of the land they were fighting over.  Palestinian poverty is all of Israel’s fault.  Israeli occupation in the Gaza Strip and West Bank is unlawful because it is Palestinian self-governed territory.  The Palestinians are the victims, they had everything ripped from them and they’re only trying to get it back.  No other country will take them in because they don’t want Israel to be a country.

The previous few paragraphs were examples of the biases from either side of the conflict.  These are the stereotypical and one-sided views that many people think of when it comes to the Arab-Israeli conflict.  There are many argumentative and accusative views from both the Arabs and Israelis that may contradict each other.  This is yet another reason why this conflict is so difficult to attempt to resolve.

Looking at the evidence, there are a few things that can be confirmed.  The first is that the Palestinians will not settle for a portion of land, and will stop at nothing until Israel is demolished and Palestine takes its place; because of the surrounding Arab countries who refuse to give them a home or help them financially.  The second is that both parties have undergone horrible tragedies and are both equally deserving of the land they’re fighting for.  The third, and possibly most important, is that the conflict is not the fault of the Arabs or the Israelis, but the British; and their horrible mistake of dividing the Arabs and Jews against each other.

Unfortunately, there are no words that can describe the pain of millions of lives lost, the pain of starvation and thirst, and the pain of knowing your child will inherit your war.  But the exchanges between Palestine and Israel have made it so that they’ve been experienced first-hand.  No amount of land will fix the tragedies these people have undergone.

It can be concluded that the Arabs and Israelis may be too stubborn to ever resolve this conflict.  They will continue to explore ways to exploit each other, continue with the grotesque and gory encounters that hurt so many innocent people, and exchange their mournful ways of life to the next generation.
Annotated Bibliography

Primary Sources

Gen. 15:18, Old Testament/Jewish Bible

Provided supporting evidence as to why those of the Jewish faith feel entitled to Israel.


Lord Arthur James Balfour, Balfour Declaration, (Foreign Office, November 2nd, 1917), 1.

Contributed direct evidence against the British and direct quotes about the Balfour Declaration which was a one page letter stating the Jews would have a homeland in Israel.


Philip K. Hitti, The Near East in History, (D.  Van Nostrand Company, Inc., 1961), 149-150.

Provided with quote.


Secondary Sources

BBC News, Israel profile – Timeline, (BBC News, November 30, 2015)  Web.

http://www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-29123668  (Accessed January 16, 2016).

Equipped a timeline which helped me type up the historical introduction.


David Robson, Israeli-Palestinian Conflict, (Gale Cengage Learning, 2010) 82-84.

Implemented information on the predicted future of the Arab-Israeli Conflict.


Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Israel After the Six Day War, State of Israel (IDF Mapping Unit, Not Listed) Web.  

http://www.mfa.gov.il/mfa/aboutisrael/maps/pages/june%2010-%201967-%20israel%20after%20the%20six%20day%20war.aspx  (Accessed January 18, 2016).

Furnished map of Israel’s territory after the Six Day War.


Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs, UN Partition Plan – Resolution 181 (1947), (IDF Mapping Unit, Not Listed) Web.   

http://mfa.gov.il/MFA/AboutIsrael/Maps/Pages/1947%20UN%20Partition%20Plan.aspx  (Accessed January 18, 2016).

Rendered map of the UN Partition Plan.


John Wilkinson, Jerusalem Under Rome and Byzantium 63-637 A.D., Jerusalem in History, (Olive Branch Press, 2000), 78.

Provided confirmation of Herod’s political status.


Public Broadcasting Services, History of the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict, (American Documentary, Inc. December, 2001)  Web.

http://pov-tc.pbs.org/pov/pdf/promiese/promises-timeline.pdf  (Accessed January 18, 2016).

Contributed a timeline and an Israeli and Palestinian perspective on events in history.


The Real Love Story of SWEMTZA by EMTZAnik Libby Fern

  Once upon a time, in a state far away, two regions fell in love and slowly became one.

(Okay maybe Maury and Ethan haven’t fully approved the merge, but we’re working on it.)

Okay back to the story…

  As a sophomore walking into my first International Convention knowing only EMTZA people, it was kind of scary. Being at the Baltimore airport, BWI, after over 8 hours of traveling and layovers, it was a relief to be done traveling for the day. Being at the BWI airport was also a reality shock and a reminder that I was going into IC as a newbie. I saw EMTZAniks reuniting with friends from Fall Boards Weekend and Pilgrimage, while I stood idly by meeting new faces. Though most of the faces were a blur, I distinctly remember waiting by the luggage carousel, and hearing the screams as EMTZA and SWUSY reunited. I saw Jessie Goldberg sprint to tackle Rachel Shapiro and heard countless screams from them and many others of “OH MY GOSH I MISSED YOU SO MUCH!” and “ I’M SO HAPPY TO SEE YOU AGAIN!” (Caps are necessary when describing USY reunions.)  

  By that point in the night it was pretty late and we were all exhausted from travel. The happily reunited USYers boarded a bus to Har Shalom Synagogue in Potomac, MD. Immediately SWUSY and EMTZA hit it off to a great start by blasting music and screaming along to the words of the official SWEMTZA song, 3005 by Childish Gambino. Once we got to Har Shalom and received our homestay assignments, I got lucky enough to share a house with the amazing Rachel Shapiro.  Being a sophomore and staying with a senior, not to mention the regional president, was kind of intimidating to say the least. On the first night of homestay, we talked and talked for way too long about what I should expect at my first IC.

 Over the next two days SWEMTZA enjoyed some Iced Aroma, way too many name games, classic Helfand moments, an awesome Shabbat, and Maury riding around Har Shalom on a trike meant for ages 2-6. I never thought I could become so comfortable with a group a strangers so fast. I guess that’s the magic of USY.  

  The day was finally here, time to leave the safety of SWEMTZA and go into the real deal, IC. Yet again we had an eventful SWEMTZA bus ride, blaring music and screaming along to 3005 as we anticipated the dream-like first day of IC. As convention got underway and everyone reunited with their respective friends, there was always a smile, a hug or a hi between a SWUSYite and an EMTZAnik whenever they would passed each other. I always knew that at convention I always had a friend to go to in SWUSY, and knowing I not only had EMTZA but SWUSY as well to rely on was an indescribable feeling.

  When it was time for the IC recap video, there was a buzz in the air while waiting to find out where IC 2016 will be. The graphic of IC Dallas 2016 came up on the screen I immediately jumped up screaming along with the rest of the room.  I grabbed the first SWUSY person in sight, which just happened to be Kira, and we screamed and hugged and screamed some more and once we could catch our breath I looked at Kira and screamed, “I’M GOING TO SWUSY, SWEMTZA IS HOSTING IC!” The next day when convention came to a close, we said our goodbyes to everyone, but the hardest for me was saying goodbye to the friends I had made in SWUSY. Goodbyes consisted of, “Come to SWUSY’s Spring!” and “Please come to EMTZA’s Spring Kallah!” Everyone was desperate to have another weekend where SWEMTZA would be together once again.  

  As I walked back into the BWI airport, my life completely different since I was last there, I saw some SWUSYites all sitting together waiting for their flights at the food court. We reminisced about the good times at pre-con and IC, but we all had one thought on our minds; Why can’t IC last longer? As the majority of SWUSY and EMTZA departed on their separate flights, there was a small group of 6 SWEMTZAniks left. I along with the rest of the remaining SWEMTZAniks went to go get milkshakes, and in the Silver Diner in the BWI airport was where the first ever (self-appointed) SWEMTZA board was made along with Rachel Shapiro as the official RYD. On December 31st, the day SWEMTZA disbanded, we made a group chat and everything called SWEMTZA and CHILL, so you know it’s super official.

  Although we may not be together physically anymore, and we have had our respective conventions since IC, the group chat is always a reminder of the love SWEMTZA will always have. From establishing that debate is NOT a sport, to the day where we all took on different identities by changing our names and confusing everyone, discussing politics, sending quizzes about Texas or Midwest stereotypes for everyone to take to see how Texan/Midwestern you really are, and so much more. You could say we all lived happily ever after.

  So now you know up about the love story of SWEMTZA. But what point does this all have? Well, that scared sophomore walking into her first IC will always remember the moment she met SWUSY and the lessons they all taught her. I learned that in USY you will find some of the most amazing people, who although you may not be with physically, or even see every couple of months at USY conventions, will always be just a text, FaceTime, call, or Group Me away.  I cannot wait to have my “home” region host IC next year. See you soon SWUSY! I’m looking forward to being on your turf.

The end:) 

Bench Instead of Binge-Watch This Summer by President Rachel Shapiro

It’s Not Too Late!

Hey you!  Yeah, you!!  What are you doing this summer?  I know that binge watching Netflix on the couch or going to the beach for a week can be fun… But what if you had the opportunity to have a life-changing summer experience?  What if you had the chance to explore North America, Europe, or Israel, grow personally and Jewishly, become more involved in USY, and make friendships that will last a lifetime.? 

The good news is that you do!  It’s not too late to sign up for a USY summer program.  There are so many amazing options to choose from!  From exploring the whole country on USY on Wheels Classic, to an Alaskan cruise with USY on Wheels Pacific Northwest, to traveling to the Dominican Republic on Dream USY, and even getting to explore Europe and Israel on Eastern Europe Israel Pilgrimage, the possibilities are endless!

But it’s not simply about the places that you will visit that will make your summer so amazing.  Ask anyone who has been on a summer program with USY, and they can tell you about all of the many incredible things they gained from it.  I can tell you that I grew so much over the course of my time on Israel Pilgrimage in 2014.  I learned how to be more independent, since I was halfway across the world from my family for a whole month.  I learned new services and prayers, such as Shacharit and Birkat Hamazon.  I learned so much about Jewish and Israeli culture and history, and how it affects my own everyday life.  Most importantly, I learned how to create a community with the people around me, one that lasts even to this day, almost two years later.

If you are at all considering attending a USY summer program, I urge you to sign up!  I promise you that you will have a life-changing summer that you will remember for the rest of your life.  If you have questions about any of the programs available to you, how to find the money to be able to go, or anything else, please visit usy.org/escape, or talk to Maury, Nathan, or me, and we will be happy to help you in any way we can!!

How to Survive Your Senior Year in SWUSY by Swizzle Editor Eden Torbatian

Hey SWUSYites!

I think that most seniors’ checklists consist of the following items:

  1. Complete the application to ____ school.
  2. Find teachers to ask for letters of recommendation for my applied colleges.
  4. Find some more scholarships to apply to.
  5. Find out how much is housing at ___ school.
  6. Find a date and a dress for Prom!
  7. Order cap and gown for graduation.


The list goes on and on! But one of the parallel things as a USYer is the involvement in the events and in your region. With all of these major things to do, it can become extremely difficult to partake in your chapter’s events and in the region’s events as a whole. I have also struggled to maintain attendance at SWUSY events, but hopefully with my guide, I may also be able to help myself become a better SWUSYite!


Step #1:  Try and keep track of upcoming events and schedule your work availability around it.

Step #2: If you have some free time, ask your chapter president or advisor to make an event around a time where you are least likely to be the busiest (either in work or school).

Step #3: If both steps 1 or 2 don’t work, you can write a quick article to the Swizzle! We always need more input and even if it’s something small, it’s always a great idea to contribute to it.

Step #4: Try to get all of your work done a couple of days before a kallah or convention arrives. Even though it will be a lot to handle in the beginning, this will help you stress out less during the convention.


These 4 steps have seemed to help me out in some ways and I’m sure it may help out my fellow seniors (or soon to be seniors!!).


I hope y’all have an incredible spring break! Make sure to write into the Swizzle Blog before the break!


Eden Torbatian

Swizzle Editor 2016

The Little Things by Rashi President and Kadima Koordinator Sam Shane (27)


It’s the little things that count. They keep adding up, and together they make up a big part of your memory. For me, it’s always been about the little things.

I’m very active in two youth groups: USY and BBYO. The very first day I joined BBYO and met my best friend, he said, “I like you. You’re gonna do great things.” A little thing. It’s the reason I became active in BBYO. In USY, former regional president Alexa Price started calling me @samshane27, my Instagram username. A little thing, and now it’s quite a big thing in SWUSY. It’s one of the reasons I stayed active. It made me feel special.

It doesn’t always take being someone’s closest friend to make an impact on them. Telling someone that they look great or they wrote a great program or something to that effect can have a bigger impact than you can ever imagine. It’s a little thing, but to them, it could mean the whole world.

On the flip side, the little things could have quite the negative impact. Calling someone a mean slur or neglecting to tell someone thank you or please can stay with them for a while. Almost everyone can agree that not feeling appreciated is one of the worst feelings in the world. That is why you can’t afford to say the mean things to someone. While it may just be one little thing not said to them, if it is said, it could be what drives them off the cliff. If you don’t have something nice to say, don’t say it at all.

Car rides. Heart to hearts. Pleases and thank yous. Reaching out to someone. They’re little things. They can and will add up.

Talk to the person you ride next to on the bus. Don’t be afraid to tell what’s on your mind to someone who’s asking. Say please. Say thank you. Reach out to someone.

It could mean the world to them.   

What Is the SA/TO Book Club? This Month’s SA/TO Down South by Allison Eisenberg


You may have heard about the SA/TO book club that is starting later this month. If so, you may be wondering what it is, and if you should join (you should!). I’m just going to take some time to answer some questions you might have about the book club, to try and encourage you to join!


What even is it? The SA/TO book club is a program in which we will read books and get to discuss them. This program will help bring SA/TO to the region, especially because our next regional convention is such a long way away.  We will have a thought provoking discussion over the book around once every two weeks over calls, WebEx, or Skype.


Why should you join? You will become more involved in today’s issues, and get to hear different perspectives on these topics. This is a great way to learn more about the world we live in. Members will also have the chance to get special siddur stickers for attending two or more meetings.


What will I have to do? For each book that we pick, all you have to do is read a certain amount by the meeting and come with an open mind ready for discussion. When you come to the discussions be prepared to tackle the topic, and bring any questions or thoughts that you had while reading the book. If you need any help when you’re reading the book, don’t be afraid to reach out to Jacob or myself!


How do I sign up? One way is to just come to the meetings prepared, but if you want extra reminders and emails you can sign up at http://goo.gl/forms/77O6Qm4us6!


I’m very excited to begin this amazing project! I hope you are too, If you have any questions,

please ask Jacob Laves or me.

A Word On Climate Change From Zeke Robinson

Imagine yourself taking a nap in a hammock hanging 20ft in the air attached to two trees in the Amazon Rainforest. The sun is shining down and monkeys are swinging in the air while jungle cats prowl around on the ground in the bushes and underbrush. The birds are chirping in the air and it’s misty outside with only a little bit of humidity and the hummingbirds are gathering pollen from beside your head. Now take that dream or vision and crumple it like a piece of paper, for that’s what these trees are being taken for—paper.

That dream that you just had right there will only be around for as long as we, the human race, aren’t cutting down our rainforests and mowing them down for farmland for cattle and other animals that release great amounts of methane on a daily basis. Those great amounts of emissions from the cows is only one of MANY disturbing and outrageous forms of pollution that cause what we know now is called Climate Change. Climate Change is a PROVEN thing that is happening with FACTS and we the humans that live on this planet we call Earth are responsible for these drastic changes. There is no excuse for the actions that have made the levels of greenhouse gases in our atmosphere drastically increase in the past 250 years. Humans have increased the levels of these gases (Methane, Carbon Dioxide, and Nitrous Oxide) in different forms over the years starting with the Industrial Revolution. Air pollution from the burning of fossil fuels contributes to global warming but also causes acid rain, asthma, and other harmful effects.

We can limit the amount of carbon and other air pollution that we are currently putting out to save our lives as well as entire species. In the next couple of decades the ice caps could be gone and polar bears (my favorite animals) may be extinct in the wild, as well as other animal species, while others will be forced to live in zoos to survive. The sea level will rise with the melting ice will change coastlines and flood some cities, including New York, New Orleans, and Miami among others.

Now there are some ways to prevent this mass catastrophe that is fast approaching and is inevitable unless we cut our greenhouse gas emissions soon and let the atmosphere do the rest. We can play a part. You, me, and everyone else can do things like turn off the lights when they aren’t needed, ride a bike, or have a more energy efficient mode of transportation, and many many others. You CAN make change, one man/woman at a time, don’t let this opportunity to save lives pass you up! Don’t make the mistake of idly standing by—do something. We can make a difference.