Monday, April 11, 2005

Hope For The Future

Coming home from Detroit yesterday, I could not help but think that there is hope for Jewish life in general and specifically in Kentucky. Youth groups and their directors work hard to create programs that engage and inspire Jewish kids to be with their Jewish friends and to connect to the world as a Jew, to look at the world through Jewish lenses. So after a solid year of working with kids, parents, synagogues, caterers and businesses, it is hard to know how well you did. Were we successful? Did we make a difference? Is the Jewish community stronger know than it was one year ago? It takes a weekend in a hotel removed from the routine of daily life to recognize and appreciate how far we have come in the past year.

DerbyUSY, the youth group that I direct, has had a good year. Our local executive board loves USY and they love and respect each other. We had some good events, lots of meetings, too many emails and not enough phone calls. The events had a high level of quality, but we were not reaching the amount of people that we wanted to impact. But it was a good year.

Sometimes it takes the recognition of others to help one appreciate their own work. Three of our events were recognized for their quality and impact on Jewish life. I was over joyed and proud of my chapter. They deserve those awards.

Then came the time for the Most Improved Chapter of the Year Award, which did not go to us. As the winning chapter got up to accept their plaque, I thought to myself, That will be our goal for next year. Then Ilana the regional president went on to describe the Chapter of Excellence for the year, which is a chapter that show outstanding qualities (not to be confused with Chapter of the Year). Apparently there was a hint that it was us, but I missed it. I was just sitting there wondering which chapter it would be. Then she said, "DerbyUSY." My jaw fell to the floor, and my eyes get misty.

Maybe we had a better year than I could recognize, being so saturated by it. And the best part of it all is that not one of my core members feels complacement. Each of them began to think of ways to be even better the next year. I love those kids. They help me love what I do. And for that I thank them. Thank you Rachel, Chelsea, Molly, Angela, Jackie, Ben, Mike, Schuyler, and Mike (different Mike).