Denomination ‘Drama’ by EMTZAnik Jake Klaiman

  Jews across the world have always had an interesting relationship with each other. Jewish Communities across the nation are as tight-knit as sardines in a can. Seriously, my grandma has had the same Jewish friends she has gossiped with since she was 10, and she’s 71. I have had the same best friends since I was three for crying out loud, and they’re all from my Jewish preschool. Even with this close bond that all Jews feel towards one another, there is some disconnect still. Despite our similarities, despite our similar traditions, despite our same Torah, despite the same belief in Kadosh Baruch Hu, Jews across denominations hate each other.

  This is not a new conflict, or even a new idea. In the bible, the story of the golden calf. Some Jews didn’t believe or trust Moses, so they worshipped a golden calf and got swallowed. In the 2nd Temple Era, Jews hated each other. It says G-d let the temple be destroyed because there was a sense of bitter hatred for Jews against fellow Jews. The idea of a superiority complex among denominations is not a new trend, nor is one that is dying either.

  So you may be wondering, reader somewhere out there, why I chose this topic. Simple, there is too much bitter hatred within the teenage Jewish Community. Over the past few months, some people in different Jewish youth groups came into the USY Facebook page to cause ruckus. There was no purpose of these kids to be in these Facebook groups besides to cause ruckus. USYers across the board were appalled and saying things like “I can’t believe how stupid and immature some people are” and “Baruch HaShem I’m not in that youth group.” Over the summer on USY Israel Summer Pilgrimage (EEIP G6 2k15 #victory), kids in my group would talk trash about the different youth groups at the hostel. How they would dress, how they would talk, how they would act to each other, every small detail of their day was scrutinized by the wannabe FBI agents of my trip. Why did my trip do this? No idea, but I know that those trips were doing the same thing to us. Why were they doing that to my trip? No idea, but it wasn’t out of retaliation. we were all just being hateful for no reason besides the fact that they were different.

  Being different is good, but not all Jews believe so. On my trip, I experienced something I never could have imagined in my life. I have grown up in the incredible Conservative Judaism Community of Suburban Minneapolis my entire life. When I came out as gay back in 2012, it was no big deal at all. Everyone was supportive, no questions asked. As a Jew in Israel, I felt safe at every corner, besides this one day. This day, our trip was at the most beautiful hostel in the north. It could’ve been a box, but hey it was at least nicer than the place we stayed at in Eilat. That night on the trip, I called my mom to be the good Jewish boy she raised me to be. During my conversation, I was called out onto the balcony by my good friend. For the sake of the stories, I will make up names. Let’s call this boy Bob. Bob came into my room and said “Hey Jake, come out here! They want to meet you!” Confused, but trusting Bob, I stepped outside my room to be greeted by another teen from a more religious youth group. I introduced myself as any polite Minnesotan would do. As I was introducing myself, this girl, let’s call her Sarah, says “That’s him!” At this point I was beyond confused and said “Sarah, what’s going on?” Her response made me feel like I was powerless, small, endangered, and just defeated. Nonchalantly, she replied “oh Jake they just wanted to meet a real live gay person!”

  “This is him?” said the teen from the other youth group. “You are gay?” To which I instantly responded with “no” as I thought I saw my life flashing in front of me. Sarah, may the Lord bless her, peeped up and spurted out “Oh Jake, don’t lie! Yeah he’s gay.” The response this teen had was so unexpected I couldn’t believe it. After threatening me that he was going to beat me, kill me and my family, and burn our bodies, he spat on my face and tried to throw the first punch. Lucky for me I have three brothers and have dodged a fair share of punches in my life. I ran into my room, locked the door, and started to cry.

  This entire situation could have been avoided, easily.

  If Sarah respected me or my safety enough, she wouldn’t have said anything. If that boy  didn’t hate me on some preconceived notion that in leviticus 18:22 tells him that I am an abomination, I wouldn’t have felt the way I have. But self hating Jews don’t just appear on a violent level.

  Across the United States, Jews use different denominations as insults to other Jews. “Oh you’re practically orthodox so it doesn’t count that you like to pray” or  “Oh Reform Jews are basically Christians praying in Hebrew.”

  We hate each other. The effects seem irreversible, but it starts with us. We need a reality change. We, as leaders wherever you may be reading this, must see this and stand up to the Jew-on-Jew hatred. Do not let some obnoxious kids ruin your view on the Reform Communities. Don’t let some hate crime caused by a Modern Orthodox ruin your view on more religious people. Also, don’t let some girl’s lack of thinking ruin your views on Conservative Jewry. A radical minority doesn’t represent a moderate majority. Please though, if we ever want a temple, or at least a kehila kedosha that will last unlike the 2nd one, we need to start getting along more. Stop judging someone based off of their denomination. Martin Luther King Jr. once said “I have a dream that one day, people will not be judged by the color of their skin, but rather the content of their character.” Well I have a dream, one day all Jews will get along, no matter their denomination. It starts with you, it starts with me, it starts today, it starts together. Thank you.

-Jake Klaiman, 11th Grade, Adath USY, EMTZA

The Real Love Story of SWEMTZA by EMTZAnik Libby Fern

  Once upon a time, in a state far away, two regions fell in love and slowly became one.

(Okay maybe Maury and Ethan haven’t fully approved the merge, but we’re working on it.)

Okay back to the story…

  As a sophomore walking into my first International Convention knowing only EMTZA people, it was kind of scary. Being at the Baltimore airport, BWI, after over 8 hours of traveling and layovers, it was a relief to be done traveling for the day. Being at the BWI airport was also a reality shock and a reminder that I was going into IC as a newbie. I saw EMTZAniks reuniting with friends from Fall Boards Weekend and Pilgrimage, while I stood idly by meeting new faces. Though most of the faces were a blur, I distinctly remember waiting by the luggage carousel, and hearing the screams as EMTZA and SWUSY reunited. I saw Jessie Goldberg sprint to tackle Rachel Shapiro and heard countless screams from them and many others of “OH MY GOSH I MISSED YOU SO MUCH!” and “ I’M SO HAPPY TO SEE YOU AGAIN!” (Caps are necessary when describing USY reunions.)  

  By that point in the night it was pretty late and we were all exhausted from travel. The happily reunited USYers boarded a bus to Har Shalom Synagogue in Potomac, MD. Immediately SWUSY and EMTZA hit it off to a great start by blasting music and screaming along to the words of the official SWEMTZA song, 3005 by Childish Gambino. Once we got to Har Shalom and received our homestay assignments, I got lucky enough to share a house with the amazing Rachel Shapiro.  Being a sophomore and staying with a senior, not to mention the regional president, was kind of intimidating to say the least. On the first night of homestay, we talked and talked for way too long about what I should expect at my first IC.

 Over the next two days SWEMTZA enjoyed some Iced Aroma, way too many name games, classic Helfand moments, an awesome Shabbat, and Maury riding around Har Shalom on a trike meant for ages 2-6. I never thought I could become so comfortable with a group a strangers so fast. I guess that’s the magic of USY.  

  The day was finally here, time to leave the safety of SWEMTZA and go into the real deal, IC. Yet again we had an eventful SWEMTZA bus ride, blaring music and screaming along to 3005 as we anticipated the dream-like first day of IC. As convention got underway and everyone reunited with their respective friends, there was always a smile, a hug or a hi between a SWUSYite and an EMTZAnik whenever they would passed each other. I always knew that at convention I always had a friend to go to in SWUSY, and knowing I not only had EMTZA but SWUSY as well to rely on was an indescribable feeling.

  When it was time for the IC recap video, there was a buzz in the air while waiting to find out where IC 2016 will be. The graphic of IC Dallas 2016 came up on the screen I immediately jumped up screaming along with the rest of the room.  I grabbed the first SWUSY person in sight, which just happened to be Kira, and we screamed and hugged and screamed some more and once we could catch our breath I looked at Kira and screamed, “I’M GOING TO SWUSY, SWEMTZA IS HOSTING IC!” The next day when convention came to a close, we said our goodbyes to everyone, but the hardest for me was saying goodbye to the friends I had made in SWUSY. Goodbyes consisted of, “Come to SWUSY’s Spring!” and “Please come to EMTZA’s Spring Kallah!” Everyone was desperate to have another weekend where SWEMTZA would be together once again.  

  As I walked back into the BWI airport, my life completely different since I was last there, I saw some SWUSYites all sitting together waiting for their flights at the food court. We reminisced about the good times at pre-con and IC, but we all had one thought on our minds; Why can’t IC last longer? As the majority of SWUSY and EMTZA departed on their separate flights, there was a small group of 6 SWEMTZAniks left. I along with the rest of the remaining SWEMTZAniks went to go get milkshakes, and in the Silver Diner in the BWI airport was where the first ever (self-appointed) SWEMTZA board was made along with Rachel Shapiro as the official RYD. On December 31st, the day SWEMTZA disbanded, we made a group chat and everything called SWEMTZA and CHILL, so you know it’s super official.

  Although we may not be together physically anymore, and we have had our respective conventions since IC, the group chat is always a reminder of the love SWEMTZA will always have. From establishing that debate is NOT a sport, to the day where we all took on different identities by changing our names and confusing everyone, discussing politics, sending quizzes about Texas or Midwest stereotypes for everyone to take to see how Texan/Midwestern you really are, and so much more. You could say we all lived happily ever after.

  So now you know up about the love story of SWEMTZA. But what point does this all have? Well, that scared sophomore walking into her first IC will always remember the moment she met SWUSY and the lessons they all taught her. I learned that in USY you will find some of the most amazing people, who although you may not be with physically, or even see every couple of months at USY conventions, will always be just a text, FaceTime, call, or Group Me away.  I cannot wait to have my “home” region host IC next year. See you soon SWUSY! I’m looking forward to being on your turf.

The end:)