Innovation Station

Far West USY Youth Directors Follow in the Footsteps of Our Nativers and Pilgrimage USYers

Far West USY Youth Director and Regional Staff trip has begun

Somewhere in Israel right now, a group of nine Far West USY youth directors and three regional staff members are following in many of the same footsteps of our Nativers and Pilgrimage USYers. They are spending time in Eretz Yisrael and touring the City of David and the Youth Center and Western Wall and Tunnels. They are traveling to Yemin Orde and immersing themselves in Tel Aviv culture, including the Olympic Experience museum. They are also studying at the Conservative Yeshiva, praying at different synagogues and discussing Middle East conflict with a former Israeli Ambassador to Egypt.

It’s all part of the Far West Region’s Leadership Seminar in Israel, April 30-May 7, designed to develop and inspire our synagogue youth staff so that together, they can make Far West USY programming even more innovative and impactful for our youth and create a natural continuation of the youth movement—a bridge to adult life. It’s also intended to build new connections and opportunities between the Conservative youth movement in the U.S. and Israel.

Yaara Koren

“This is a new pilot program,” explains Yaara Koren, Far West USY Shlicha, who coordinated and helped lead the trip along with Far West USY’s Regional Teen Engagement Director Darren Klein and Assistant Regional Teen Engagement Director Katie Samiljan. “If it works like we have planned, we hope to offer it in other USY regions as well.”

Most exciting for Yaara is the fact that this group is able to travel to the land of Israel together—and that three of the nine youth directors are there for the very first time. Also, the Far West USY leaders are seeing first-hand the USY programs offered in Israel by meeting the tour guides of our Nativ and Pilgrimage USY programs, visiting many of the same places as our youth and even meeting with Nativ students in the Yemin Orde Youth Village.

“Knowing that three of our youth directors are in Israel for the first time is a big responsibility, but it’s so amazing that we’re able to offer them something like this,” says Yaara. “That’s really why I am here—to bring people to Israel and have them learn about it and build that connection—so this is really exciting to me because it’s something I’ve been wanting to do and we’re now doing it!”


Look for photos and personal accounts of the trip from these youth directors who attended in the next issue of Kehilla:

  • Daniel Sinai, Temple Beth Sholom, Las Vegas, NV
  • Pamela Brode, Temple Ramat Zion, Northridge, CA
  • Shannon Tepfer, Temple Etz Chaim, Thousand Oaks, CA
  • Michael Groetsch, Congregation Or Tzion, Scottsdale, AZ
  • Jason Lobenstein,  Congregation Beth El, La Jolla, CA
  • Sarah Bochenek, Congregation Beth Sholom of the East Valley, Chandler, AZ
  • Camryn Kruger, Valley Beth Shalom, Encino, CA
  • Sabrina Brotons, Congregation Ner Tamid, Rancho Palos Verdes, CA
  • Stacy Abrams, Congregation Beth Israel, Tustin, CA

Travel Itinerary:

Here’s what a day in the life of our youth directors looks like while they’re in Israel:

Monday, April 30
-Tour of the City of David, Ezrat Israel
-Kotel Tunnels and Free Time at Western Wall
-Orientation at Fuchsberg Jerusalem Center for Conservative Judaism

Tuesday, May 1
-Workshop – Israel Hadracha Programming
-Yemin Orde Youth Village to Meet Nativ Students
-Culture Event in Tel Aviv

Wednesday, May 2
-In the Footsteps of USY Israel Pilgrimage, including Independence Hall, Pizur – Shuk Ha’Carmel and Olympic Experience
-Reunion with Former Far West Shlichim

Thursday, May 3
-Study at Conservative Yeshiva
-Workshop with Vadim Blumin – Makom at Kiryat Moriah
-Session at the Jerusalem U
-Meet with Haim Koren, former Israeli Ambassador to Egypt

Friday, May 4
-Activity with NOAM Israel
-Workshop with Michal Chacham, former Central USY Shlicha
-Time at Machane Yehuda Market
-Kabbalat Shabbat at the Kotel

Shabbat, May 5
-Pray at Different Synagogues
-Tour of Yemin Moshe
-Seudah Shlishit

Sunday, May 6

-“Taking It Back Home” Workshop – Israel Programming and Effective

Many thanks to all the synagogues who are supporting their youth directors’ participation in this exciting opportunity.

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