Youth Group Newsletter (March 2013)

Several weeks ago, four young Temple Sinai members and I traveled to Temple Ohabei Shalom, a very large and beautiful synagogue in Brookline, MA, for the annual JOSTY shul-in. This very special shul-in is open only to synagogue members in grades 7 and 8, in order to give the next generation of NFTYites a taste of the exciting opportunities that lie ahead of them in their high school years. The day was filled with innovative programs and activities, followed by an incredibly fun dance, and completed with a massive sleepover in the synagogue’s social hall. As the participants drifted off to sleep to the sounds of a movie being projected in the front of the room, I thought of all of the amazing opportunities that await them when they join our senior youth group next year. Back when the leaves were just changing color, our senior youth group, NUTSY, had some incredible fun of their own. In the fall, a group of NUTSY members and I travelled to Congregation Beth Avodah in Newton, MA, for their annual Fall Conclavette. The theme of this year’s conclavette was “The Power of Positivity,” and, boy, did that theme ring true through the weekend long event. Fun programing brought about great discussions, and joyous prayer imbued the occasion with a deep sense of holiness. The typical dance was replaced by the celebration of a Bat Mitzvah, one of the teen’s peers, whose family had only recently become active in the congregation after immigrating from Russia. Power outages struck the town of Newton just before the Bat Mitzvah was called to the Torah, and the whole group bonded deeply as they huddled in prayer in a dark synagogue. Hundreds of teens listened in silence as the father of the Bat Mitzvah read his speech by the light of a cell phone. And, just as the service was coming to an end and the Temple’s leadership was beginning to panic, “How is the DJ supposed to play with no power?” the lights came flickering back on. Participants walked a red carpet amidst the flashing lights of “paparazzi” and danced the night away together in a Hollywood themed celebration. More recently, as snow came down upon us, NUTSY members and I hopped on a bus to Eisner Camp in the beautiful Berkshires for five days of fun, friendship, and Jewish learning at NFTY Northeast’s December Institute. Participants were able to do everything from yoga and sledding to Torah study with some of the region’s most inspiring Rabbis. Our very own NUTSY Co-President, Jesse Chen, led the crowd as they sang Jewish songs jubilantly in the dining hall after meals. Participants entertained each other with the traditional talent show, created models of The Temple out of wood, painted themselves with Armenian bridal henna, talked about maintaining their Jewish identity in college, made beautiful beaded hamsas out of clay, and so much more. It was a week filled with kindness and beauty, where everyone accepted everyone and lifetime memories took shape. The fun of being a NUTSY member is not limited, however, to our incredible regional events. Much of our fun takes place right at Temple Sinai. We meet regularly on Wednesday nights, and it can be as casual as hanging out on the couches in our amazing youth lounge, talking, painting nails, listening to music, playing little games, and sharing stories. We have more formal meetings, where we formulate our plans for upcoming local activities. For example, the senior youth group had an awesome shul-in at Temple Sinai over Hanukkah, where we devoured latkes, created beautiful menorahs, made candy dreidels, and spent some quality time together as a young and vibrant synagogue community. During Tu B’shevat, NUTSY participants symbolically “planted trees” made of pretzels, green frosting, and green candies, into cups of chocolate pudding and Oreo crumbles. Our NUTSY board has it’s own meetings as well, and we have been trying out various frozen yogurt establishments in our area as we discuss upcoming events and activities. Temple Sinai members in our synagogue’s Junior Youth Group, open to students in grades 5 – 7, have had some fun events of their own recently, including a Hanukkah celebration which featured latkes, jelly donuts, and a very intense game of dreidel. Earlier this school year, Junior Youth Group participants brought a large amount of donations to our local Humane Society, and were given a tour of its inner workings by a generous staff member, allowing JYG members to meet and interact with cats, dogs, bunnies, and even a very friendly rat. More recently, JYG members participated in a creative and fun photo scavenger hunt in the Westfarms Mall, after which they shared lunch together at Ruby Tuesdays. As I write this article, our most exciting Junior Youth Group event of the year is coming up in just a couple of weeks. Our annual Purim shul-in at Temple Sinai is always a big hit, and allows Junior Youth Group members to be led by NUTSY members in creative programs and activities, culminating in a sleepover, and followed by the Purim Carnival the next morning. I know that participants in both the senior and junior youth groups are really looking forward to this very fun and engaging event! NUTSY (grades 8-l2) and Junior Youth Group (grades 5 – 7) events, meetings, and activities are ongoing, and it is never too late to join us! Please see the calendar of upcoming events, and feel free to contact me via email if you ever have any questions about our top-notch youth programming.


Mitzi Young, Temple Sinai Youth Director new-message24