I finally made a choice. I’m happy to share with all that after a lot of thought and consideration, I am officially a JUF layperson and a member of a brand new committee with a super long name, The Back from Birthright Israel Committee.
This brand new JUF committee is tasked with connecting Birthright Israel trip alumni living in the Chicagoland area to each other professionally, through Jewish life and culture, volunteerism, and philanthropy.
It might sound a bit vague, but since we are new, part of what we will be doing over this first year is figuring out our exact mission, our goals for moving forward and our place in the Jewish community. We’ve also only had one meeting so far and that was in a bar (my kind of committee) and it was more of a get-to-know-you than a let’s-get-down-to-business kind of affair.
We do know that will be throwing an awesome party just for Birthright alumni at some point in the next year along with hosting holiday events and volunteer projects. We are also tasked with helping with trip recruitments and making sure that the next crop of Birthright participants have the same amazing experiences that we all did on our own trips.
Speaking of our trips, joining this committee has really brought my Jewish communal experience full circle. If I had never gone on Birthright in 2006 and not had such an amazing and fantastic experience, I never would have come home, rethought my life, quit my PR job and spent five years in the Communications department at JUF. It feels fitting to be volunteering for a cause that initially spurred my whole interest in the Jewish communal world. Funny how things work out like that.
Our first official meeting is next week, so I’ll have more to share in my next blog post. You can be sure I’ll keep you updated on our work as we move forward, and encourage you to attend our events and parties.
In the meantime, if you are a recent (or even not so recent) Birthright alum looking to get involved in the Jewish community in a larger capacity now that you are home from Israel and don’t know where to start, have I got the person for you! You’ve probably heard of her: Elizabeth “JUF” Wyner. You can reach out to her at firstname.lastname@example.org or go friend her on Facebook to follow her posts.
As JUF’s Young Adult Engagement Associate, and the brain trust behind this new committee, Elizabeth spends her days (and nights) engaging and following up with Birthright participants upon their return home. She’s an expert at this stuff and can help anyone find their right fit. Frankly, she’s the reason why I joined this committee. So give it a shot, reach out to her, come to one of our programs—what do you have to lose?