By Emily Y., Teen Leader from Shaaray Tefila
Shalom! We are excited to have three mentors on our Teen Exchange program this year, one from Shaaray Tefila and two from the Ohel Avraham-Leo Baeck Education Center. For me, participating in this program for a second time with Cohort 4 is providing me with a new perspective on the Teen Exchange.
The role of the mentors is to help support and inspiring other teens on this program, while also learning and grow themselves. We are pleased to have this special opportunity for our teens and community.
These are my words that I shared with the beautiful Ohel Avraham-Leo Baeck Community:
My name is Emily young. It is a joy to be back here at Ohel Avraham-Leo Baeck and to be welcomed by this warm and inviting congregation.
On this Shabbat, we read Vayechi, the last parsha from the book of Genesis. Vayechi is the story of the end of days as the parsha focuses on the end of Jacob’s life. Interestingly, the parsha on final moments informs us of a lesson for our everyday: to live each day with self-conviction and with intention.
I am honored and extremely enthusiastic to have the opportunity to join this year’s Teen Exchange Cohort as a second time participant and as a mentor and to come to Israel a second time to understand the importance of Judaism in my life.
This past week has been absolutely incredible. In only a short few days, strong relationships have been formed, challenging questions have been asked, and Judaism has been understood in new lights. That is the beauty of this teen exchange. Each day is significant in creating a deeper understanding of what it means to be Jewish. To my understanding, Judaism transcends that of religious texts and roots itself in culture, tradition, family, friends, and peoplehood.
Earlier this week, we listened to Anat Hoffman, leader and founder of Women of the Wall; where she discuss the principles of taking action and striving to create a future towards equality and tolerance. Just as Jacob blessed his children and grandchildren and instilled in them the responsibility of carrying on the Jewish people, Anat Hoffman similarly reminded us of our responsibility to strive toward a world of peace. Anat said to us, ” A day without provocation is a day wasted.” In striving towards that peace, we must live each day with principle.
It is my hopes in standing in front of my peers and in front of this beautiful congregation that we remember our role to each other and the role we have in creating change. Over these next few days, continue to build relationships with your teen exchange partners and with the group as a whole. Continue to make yourself uncomfortable in having conversations that challenge your perspective. And continue to create a personal connection with Israel. So, at the end of days, we will be content in knowing that we have done all we can.