From October 19 to 21, members of Central Region West came together for Regional Kallah, a convention that celebrates Judaism and encourages participants to explore it through new ideas and implement it into their lives through many unique aspects. Everyone got a chance to experience a variety of elective topics that focused on Jewish ideals and history through different subjects. My experience was a bit different. I had the amazing opportunity to create programming for the convention. Though my perspective of the weekend was not the same as everyone else’s, I could not be more thankful for the lessons this experience taught me.
Around a month before the convention, the steering team came together for an overnight to kickstart the planning process. I met my steering partner for the first time, and we immediately got to work on our vision for the elective we were leading: Tikkun Olam. That initial start lasted many hours and went till past midnight, both of us still full of excitement in the first steps of this project.
Living forty minutes away from my steering partner wasn’t that ideal, but we made it work. Over the next month, our weeks were full of late night texts, hour-long Facetime’s, and last-minute revelations. The weeks grew longer as the anticipation for Kallah grew, yet they passed faster and faster as the work seemed to pile up and grow more tedious. Soon, the weekend had arrived and we were at the campground, cutting what felt like thousands of sheets of paper in preparation for our programs.
Steerers had to be several steps ahead of the schedule, leaving activities much earlier than they tended to set up our electives. Our first program was set at an amphitheater outside with one small light, just enough to see each other's faces and the paper instructions for participants. Slowly, people began coming into the programming space. They all looked exhausted. People usually are on the first day of conventions.
But as the first program began, I watched the participants immediately pull themselves into the content, getting incredibly engaged throughout our simulations, and contributing an insightful thought to the discussions. As the program closed and people began to leave the program space, my friends ran up to me excitedly chattering about how much they enjoyed being a part of what I created.
In a mere forty-five minutes, the program was over. It felt like so much less than that. My partner and I cleaned up our materials and hauled them back to the main building. One down, and five more to go. But I was no longer anxious about how it would go. Just after leading the first one, I was reminded of why I was doing this: seeing people enjoy the content and retain it. At the end of every program we had people write down how they would apply what they learned to their own lives, and everyone’s response was different. Every individual that came took it to themselves in their own special way. It was one of the most rewarding things to watch.
Throughout the whole convention, my experience was quite limited compared to everyone else’s. Yet I feel as though I learned just as much about myself and my own Jewish identity through this chance of possibly being someone else’s mentor in discovering that for themselves. I got to hear many different perspectives and ideas of the same prompts and was able to see from outside point of view how a variety of different people chose to take away the lessons we wanted to teach. I’m immensely thankful for having the chance to lead this for others, and I cannot wait for future opportunities.
Emily Leyfer is a BBG in Jerusalem Shel Zahav BBG #1516 in Central Region West.More Stories
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