ADAM BENDER, TEEN ENGAGEMENT DIRECTOR
Welcome back! Over the next few weeks, most people will ask, “how did you spend your summer vacation?” I took the opportunity to spend my fourth—yes, count ’em—fourth straight summer on United Synagogue Youth (USY) on Wheels East!
There is so much to love about the Wheels experience! Each summer, I hop on a bus for four weeks with about 30 Jewish 8th-9th graders to explore all that the East Coast has to offer, all while living very Jewish lives. In addition to praying twice a day, keeping kashrut, and observing Shabbat, Wheels offers an identity-building experience, providing opportunities for developing independence and personal growth. The tour also builds Jewish identity, providing teens with meaningful experiences that strengthen their understanding of and commitment to Judaism.
The experiences we have while traveling lead to moments that quickly define who we are as a person and the community we create while on the road together. Whether volunteering at the eco-village in St. Petersburg or watching 4th of July fireworks over the Ohio River in Louisville, these moments offer the opportunity to explore cultures and learn about ourselves as we travel outside of our comfort zones.
I love that I get to bring a piece of my summer back with me to WJC! In January, we’ll get a glimpse of Wheels as we venture to Portland, OR, for five nights to explore, learn, and volunteer. During this trip, we’ll see all that Portland has to offer while learning about homelessness and environmental awareness.
To register your teen for the Teen Tiyul, visit www.wjcenter.org/teentiyul.
Please save the date for this month’s WJC Teen events: