Change the world - one chanuch at a time

Jewish youth movements are more than just summer camps, says Asha Sumroy - they're a way to change the world.

July 18, 2018 12:06

If someone was looking over my shoulder right now (which I know they won’t be, because I think we’ve unlearnt how to be nosy, how to be curious, how to wonder about people - but thats for another blog maybe) they would see, on my laptop desktop, a photo of me and one of my best friends knee-deep in the kineret playing catch with a rock as an almost surreal backdrop to sticky note snippets of things people have said that I want to remember. One of the stickies says this: 

“The old shall dream dreams and the youth shall see visions -  Joel 2:27

The unique power of youth lies, as the Prophet knew, in their ability to "see visions" – that is, see more than the reality. "There exists in youth an unsurpassed ability of soul. The soul is not yet tired, sceptical, cynical and weary. The ability to truly believe in something, without reservation, is only truly possible in youth.”

Every summer the time comes when as a madricha (leadera) of RSY-Netzer I start planning for the summer camps which are arguably the biggest events of our youth movement year. This demands huge amounts of time and thought and commitment and soul from people my age not just at this time of year, but always. 

I so often get asked "why"? Why do you it to yourself if so often it makes doing well at uni harder, when it means you spend less time ‘socialising’, when its so difficult sometimes it hurts? And I think these are questions which all of us (at the youth movement) ask ourselves all the time. I think even more so now, at a time when issues in the Jewish community are publicly shared and debated and we, as the movement, are constantly responsible for the stake we hold in these public issues. Of course, we ask ourselves is it still worth it, to choose what we believe over what is easy? 

I know that we all find our answers in a million different, very personal places. But I also know that there is a shared and deep rooting of all the youth movements in this belief in the power of youth. It has run through the veins of each generation of each decade of all of our movements - right from when our predeccesors, madrichim of Ha-Shomer ha-Tsair, returned to the Warsaw ghetto - having led the uprising and then escaped before Nazi invasion - knowingly risking their lives, in order to be with their chanichim (participants). Together, they were killed, in the ghetto. 

This is a piece of history that is invaluable to so many of us. We are privileged to not have to risk our lives for what we believe, but it reminds us that we have to choose what we believe over what is easy. And what we believe, at its core, I think, is that the youth shall see visions. 

Someone asked me again the other day why I do it, and I said because I genuinely believe that youth movements are the way to change the world. And I guess thats the best way to describe this part of my summer every year - Im planning a summer camp, but I’m also trying to change the world. 

Asha Sumroy is one of the JC's regular student bloggers for 2017-18. She is studying at Durham University.

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July 18, 2018 12:06

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