A New Generation of World Menders By Rabbi Judy Chessin
“Baruch Atah, Adonai, Eloheinu, Melech haolam, shenatan lanu hizdamnut l’takein et haolam.”
“Praised are You, Adonai, our God, Ruler of the universe, Who has given us the opportunity to mend the world.”
These words of blessing are sung regularly at camp and NFTY youth events and nine of our Temple Beth Or teens had the opportunity to bring them to life when they participated in the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism’s L’Taken Social Justice Seminar.
On January 5-9, Victor De La Cruz, Madeline Gruenberg, Benjamin Guadalupe, Ava Kuperman, Emma Lindsay, Charlotte Neiberding, Taran Smith, Natalie Taylor and Sara Zendlovitz joined hundreds of teens from all around the country to learn how to be an advocate for social change. Jude Cohen, one of our Temple high school teachers, helped chaperone and we were joined by six students from Temple Israel and Rabbi Karen Bodney-Halasz.
Through various simulations and programs, our teens studied what makes advocacy inherently Jewish. The weekend culminated with each of the students lobbying our elected officials on Capitol Hill. Our youth spoke on topics about which they are passionate: LGBTQ+ equality, climate change, disability rights and reproductive rights. They spoke magnificently in the offices of our Ohio State Senators Sherrod Brown and Rob Portman, as well as the House of Representatives’ Mike Turner.
It wasn’t all hard work. The students also visited the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial, Smithsonian museums, the Holocaust Memorial Museum and even spent a frigid night walking around Georgetown.
Graduates of the L’taken Social Justice Seminars remark that this is the highlight of their high school years at Temple Beth Or. Very few teens have the opportunity to partake of this kind of intensive learning, speak their truth in the halls of Congress, or show their courage to our national leaders. It is such a remarkable program that four of our students actually attended this year for the second time!
Unfortunately, it is also a costly program that not every family can afford. If you would like to help underwrite this important event so that all of our teens can participate please be in touch.
Mazel Tov to our amazing teen advocates! You have helped mend the world!
Rabbi Judy Chessin