August 21, 2008
I spent wonderful teen years in the Zionist youth group Young Judaea. It was the first place I remember being accepted for myself without qualification. After much prodding from my mother, who dragged me to my first YJ meeting in Cincinnati in 1972 or so, I became very active in the city club and in the region. I spent three summers as a camper at the national leadership camp, Tel Yehudah. And after graduating from high school, I represented YJ to the Machon lemadrichei chutz la'aretz (Institute for Youth Leaders from Abroad) in Israel in 1977. After returning from Israel, I worked at Tel Yehudah for two summers as a camper and as the Israeli dance instructor.
Last month a YJ alumni employee asked me if I wanted to be profiled in the upcoming issue of Vatikim, the online alumni newsletter.Of course I said yes -- YJ was such a formative part of the adult I became. The profile appeared yesterday. You can see it by clicking here. Almost immediately I received an email from a former camper, who sent me these photos taken at Tel Yehudah in 1979.
Here is a song we sang in the 70s --
Forward together, we're building Young Judaea
Hand in hand we'll proudly sing our cheer.
Ruach shall lead us, surging forever forward
Love of Zion lives throughout the years.
We stand ready to serve, each in his own way
Eretz Yisrael, and the USA.
Shout out our praises, long let our voices ring
Young Judaea, now we cast our lots
Always our spirit serves as an inspiration,
Young Judaea -- Chazak! v'Amatz! Judaea is the tops!