What USY Is To Sydney Wigder

There is a certain feeling that was recently described to me that I didn’t know existed. When you feel so happy that you could cry. This is the feeling I get when I get to a SWUSY Convention. Seeing everyone for the first time in months, some of them my best friends, is just the greatest feeling in the world, and I’m sure many of you have felt it too.

Convention is a place where you can escape. It’s a place where you know everyone loves you and cares about you. If I didn’t have USY, my life would feel empty. Whether it’s seeing their faces in person, on a computer, or through text, SWUSY makes me happier than anything else. When I’m at a USY convention, I feel loved and important. With all the stress of school, it is amazing to leave it all behind for a weekend, which goes by way too quickly for my liking.

To be 100% honest, I don’t know any other feeling than that original feeling I mentioned earlier when I’m talking about USY. All of my school friends can tell you that there are 2 things that I talk about waaaay too much…. my favorite bands and USY. USY is one of the most important aspects of my life; it is the place where I have met some of my best friends in the entire world.

Whenever I see the smiles at a convention, it makes me smile much much more than I have in that past period without USY. USY is my heart and home. USY is a place to feel welcome. USY is where I achieve that special feeling.

 

All About Purim by Hannah Zhrebker

Hello SWUSY, Hannah Zhrebker here, talking to you about the upcoming Chag (holiday), Purim. I know it’s a month away, but there are things about Purim that some of you might not know, so I would like to tell you.

 

In the 4th century in Persia, there was King Achashverosh and Queen Vashti. One night, the King had his party and the queen had her party. King Achashverosh told Vashti to come to his party, but she declined, so she was executed. To find a new queen, Achashverosh had a beauty contest, and he picked Esther, who was Jewish.

 

After she became queen, Esther’s cousin, Mordechai, overheard two of the king’s men plotting to kill the king, so he told the king and they were hung. Meanwhile, Haman, an evil man who hated Jews and was a descendant of the nation of Amelek (a nation whom Jews hate also) was going to become Prime Minister.  Since he became prime minister, the king ordered that everyone should bow down to him, but Mordechai didn’t, and explained to Haman that he was Jewish and Jews did not bow to anyone. Haman was so angry and he wanted revenge on all Jews, and he made the 13th day of Adar to be that day of revenge to Jews, which is the day of Ta’anit Esther (fast of Esther). Haman went to the king and told him he’d give him 10,000 silver in exchange for killing the Jews, but the king said he could do what he wanted with them and keep the money. Haman then sent out letters ordering that the Jewish people shall be killed on the 13th of Adar.

 

Mordechai heard of this, ripped his clothes and told Esther. She said she isn’t allowed to go to the king uninvited. He then sent another letter and she said she would go to the king only if the Jews fasted for 3 days and pray to Hashem, and so they did.

Esther had two dinners with Haman and the king, and at the second one Esther told Haman’s plan to the king, and he was hanged.

 

What are the mitzvot/ commandments for Purim you might ask? There are 3 commandments to do on Purim: You should listen to the Megilah reading; have a feast on Purim, Mishloach Manot/sending food baskets, and giving money to the poor. On Purim it’s a custom to dress up in costumes, from venahaphochu because we it’s a day of opposite, we were going to be killed but then we weren’t, we dress up because it’s the opposite of what we usually do.

 

Some fun facts:

  1. Haman was hanged on the second day of Pesach.
  2. Queen Esther’s Hebrew name was Hadassah and Esther is Persian.
  3. Mordechai was the first in history to be called a Jew, everyone else was called Hebrews or Israelites.
  4. Haman was one who told the king to kill Vashti. Vashti was a descendant of Nebuchadnezzar, the Babylonian emperor who destroyed the first beit hamikdash/temple.
  5. Some people say Esther wasn’t pretty, and had a green complexion.
  6. Mordechai is descendant of Benjamin, son of Yaakov, who didn’t bow down to Eisav.

Don’t Fear- Go To Israel by Nathan Bishop

Hello SWUSY, Nathan here, your 2015-2016 Programming/Israel Affairs Vice President. I want to take a moment and tell y’all a little bit about what has been going on in Israel over the past four and a half months, 30 Israelis have been murdered and 301 wounded by terrorists. There have been 83 stabbing attacks, 22 vehicle ramming attacks, and 15 shootings against Israeli civilians. This is a fact stated in The Jerusalem Post. However, I am not publishing this article to spew hatred and instill fear into all of you. In fact, that is the last thing I want to do, because when we, the Jewish people begin to feel fear, the terrorists are winning.

I am writing this article to tell you how ecstatic I am to be spending next year in Israel on Nativ: College Leadership Program in Israel where I will be spending a semester studying at Hebrew University in Jerusalem, and the second semester in the small Negev city of Yerucham participating in community service.

I am not afraid. I believe that when my home, the land that the Jewish people have won and lost from generation to generation is under attack, the last thing I should be doing is avoiding it. This would mean the terrorists have won. I believe that although Israel is in one of its worst situations yet in its history, I still need to be there. My pride and joy for Israel are why I told my mom and dad in the 10th grade that I am going on Nativ. I also told them, “If I say I don’t want to go anymore, tell me I am wrong.” Nativ is where I am meant to be.

Now I am not telling you to spend a full year in Israel like me. That’s ridiculous. I’m telling you to take whatever chance you can get to go to Israel, whether it is on USY Pilgrimage or with your camp or another Israel program. Please USY, stand up like the amazing Jewish teens that I know you all are and do not let terror conquer the Jewish people.

 

Nathan Bishop

Why IC Should Be For You by President Rachel Shapiro

Why IC Should Be for You

 

In case you somehow haven’t heard, USY’s 2016 International Convention is going to be held in Dallas, TX!!  This is a huge deal, as SWUSY has only hosted IC once before, and it’s the first time that it will be in Texas.  Although IC is still almost a year away, and registration information won’t come out for several months, it’s never too early to start thinking about signing up for IC!  As someone who was lucky enough to attend IC 3 times, I figured that I would share with you just a few of the reasons that I think everyone who can should go to IC.  

 

  1. Ruach– One of my favorite things about SWUSY is that we are filled with ruach.  We have so much energy, passion, and love for USY.  Now imagine the amazing ruach of our region, and multiply it times 1000.  That’s what it’s like to be in a room with so many USYers from all over North America, singing, dancing, praying, and having the absolute best time together.
  2. Programming– Another thing I love about IC is the unique programming that we are able to take part in.  We have had inspiring speakers, such as Ruth Messinger, the president of American Jewish World Service, partnered with incredible organizations, such as the Anti-Defamation League and Keshet, and been able to visit exciting locations such as the World of Coke, the National Civil Rights Museum, Camden Yards, and so much more.  By coming to IC, you get the opportunity to experience programming that can’t be replicated at any other USY event.
  3. Summer Programs Reunions– Whether you toured the country on USY on Wheels, travelled to Israel with USY Israel Pilgrimage, or attend Camp Ramah every summer, IC provides the perfect opportunity to reunite with all of your friends from summer.  I know from experience just how exciting it is to be able to see all of your friends after having been apart for 6 months or more.
  4. Friendships– IC gives each and every USYer the opportunity to make incredible new friendships with other teens from all over North America.  The number of friends I have made at past ICs astounds me.  I love that wherever I go in the country, I have someone who I call up to visit, because I truly have friends everywhere.  Not only that, but the quality of these friendships is amazing considering the fact that I’ve only spent a handful of days with most of these people in real life.  The friendships you form at IC are so incredibly special, and are something that I wouldn’t trade for the world.

 

So start thinking today about registering for IC Dallas 2016!

State of AAUSY, by AAUSY president Jacob Laves

Every morning when I leave my room I pass a gavel hanging on my wall that reads “AAUSY President’s Gavel”. Every morning when I check my phone’s calendar I see a schedule packed with AAUSY events, and every morning I am more confident than the day before that AAUSY is a strong thriving chapter. This has never been more true than right now, heading into the 2016 spring semester.

It’s taken a lot of effort, but AAUSY is doing fantastic. Between five groundbreaking monthly Shabbat dinners, a “drive-in” movie night, a doughnut filled Freshman Kidnapping, a Game Show night, a trip to the Trail of Lights, and a Limo Scavenger Hunt we’ve done some incredible things so far. Along the way we’ve managed to already raise a personal record breaking amount of money specifically for the regional Tikun Olam fund, contribute the most hours to SWUSY’s Community Service Hours Competition, and keep our SA/TO Sunday project going with new spotlights and focuses. We’ve made inroads into social media with our new Instagram (followed by official USY instagram and the new international president) and Twitter accounts, and we have a fully functioning website to centralize all of our information. We’re sending the largest delegation to Spring Kallah, but we’re as tight knit a family as there ever was.

None of this would be possible without the Chapter Executive Board and the Advisor team. They’ve all made a commitment to help run a chapter with high expectations, but none of them are content to simply meet these high expectations. That’s not what AAUSY is about. This team set out at the beginning of the year to break the mold, to set new standards, and that’s exactly what they’ve done. The chapter is in its best shape in years, thanks to their continual hard work.

We’re not done though. We don’t have time to take a break, time isn’t a luxury we have. A chapter is never finished, and AAUSY isn’t the exception. We’re gearing up to take on this new semester with even more energy than the last, with new events and exciting programs. We just kicked off our new weekly lounge nights, a place for everybody to come and relax and work on homework in a USY setting. We’re jointly hosting an overnight with SAUSY, and then the next day we’re going to be competing in a chili cookoff. Our calendar is already set, and is jam packed and filled to the brim with excitement and fun.

Of course, none of these events would mean anything if it wasn’t for the amazing people that came to them. AAUSY is more than just a chapter, it’s a family. I’ve had the incredible privilege of being chapter president, and it is one of the most rewarding tasks I’ve had. I’m not president for the gavel, I’m not president for the title, I’m president because I love AAUSY. My chapter makes me laugh, my chapter makes me think. My chapter makes me question my sanity, and it (sometimes forcibly) encourages me to expand my music taste.

Running a chapter isn’t easy, but every ounce of effort is worth it when I see people smiling and having a great time. Chapter events may seem small compared to the grandiose regional conventions, but they’re where the magic of USY comes from. The chapter level is where all the one-liners and inside jokes start, they’re where you learn about the weird obscure sport someone plays, they’re where that one story about how insane people are comes from. Without chapters, SWUSY is just a few scattered events throughout the year, and is empty the rest of the time.

AAUSY is doing fantastic. AAUSY is making memories. AAUSY is my family, it’s my home, and I know no matter what happens AAUSY will have my back. That’s why I have KangaJew as my phone’s background, that’s why I put in so much effort to keep it going, and that’s why I love USY. I can’t imagine myself in any other chapter anywhere in the world.       

You Tu Can Learn About Tu B’Shevat! By Swizzle Editor Eden Torbatian

 

I think that we can all agree that winter is normally a very drab time of year. There is hardly any sunlight, cold weather, and most importantly, the trees are completely bare!

But I think that one thing that many of us fail to realize is that trees have their own birthdays too! And the celebration of this birthday is called Tu B’Shevat!

Tu B’Shevat starts on Monday, January 25, 2016 (or “The 15th of Shevat” if you are awesome and follow the Jewish calendar) and is known as the beginning of the New Year of Trees. According to uscj.org, it is the day when the sap in the trees begins to rise, signalling the earth’s awakening from its winter slumber, and heralding the beginning of Spring. This mini-holiday is of major importance to our appreciation of Nature and our relationship to it.

 

Fruit lovers rejoice!! In order to celebrate this amazing holiday, we mark each day by eating fruit, more so from the “Seven Kinds” that are ruled out from the Torah to be praiseful of the Holy Land and its commemoration. These fruits are things like: grapes, figs, pomegranates, and dates. If you are not into the fruit, the Torah’s got you covered! You can have barley, wheat, and olives to celebrate.

 

If you want to read up on Tu B’Shevat, you can check the Chumash in Parashat Yitro on the 2nd Portion. Also, if you would like to know more on Tu B’Shevat or just on the 15th of Shevat, check out the link below! It can help you find a Q&A section and even recipes to use on Tu B’Shevat!

 

http://www.uscj.org/JewishLivingandLearning/ShabbatandHolidayInformation/Holidays/JewishHolidays/TuB_Shvat/default.aspx

 

So go outside, hug a tree, and enjoy some figs!

Have fun, stay safe, and enjoy life.

Talk to y’all soon!

 

Eden Torbatian

SWIZZLE Editor.

Learn New Orleans Lingo With Comm Bayle Goldman!

 In one week, SWUSY will be celebrating Mardi Gras in New Orleans! Get to know some popular lingo below so you can sound like a native next week!

  • Ball (bal masque, tableau ball)- A Mardi Gras krewe’s formal event and dance
  • Banquette (ban’ ket)- Sidewalk–French meaning a small bank along the road
  • Bayou (by’ you)- Slow stream, or body of water running through a marsh or swamp.
  • Beaucoup Crasseux (boo coo cra sue)- Translated: very dirty
  • Big Easy– “The Big Easy” became the official nickname for New Orleans after a contest was run years ago.
  • Bourre (BOO ray)- Translated: A French card game. “Wildly popular way to gamble on the old riverboats, and still is among Cajuns.
  • Cajun (kay’ jun)- French Acadians who settled here after immigrating from Canada.
  • Camelback (cam’ l bak)- A single row house with the back half made into a two-story. The front section remains a single.
  • Captain– Leader of a Carnival organization.
  • Carnival- The party season before Mardi Gras. Starts on January 6 (Twelfth Night). Celebrated with king cakes at Mardi Gras parties.
  • Cayoodle– A mixed breed dog.
  • Cher– New Orleans Translation: An expression many use when greeting another. A term of affection meaning “dear” or “love”
  • Chute-the-chute- Playground slide.
  • Crescent City– A nickname for New Orleans, originating from the shape of the Mississippi River as it bends around the city.
  • Creole (cree’ ole)- Descendents of French, Spanish, and Carribean slaves and natives; has also come to mean any person whose ancestry derives from the Caribbean’s mixed nationalities.
  • Den– Mardi Gras float warehouse.
  • Doubloons (duh bloons’)- Aluminum coins stamped with a parade krewe’s insignia and theme.
  • Do-do (dough dough–not du-du!)- In New Orleans, it’s a cute word children use when tired and sleepy (from the French “to sleep”: dormir).
  • Dressed– Sandwiches served with lettuce, tomatoes and mayonnaise: “the works” (and, of course…the way those with class catch their Mardi Gras throws!).
  • Fat City– A region of Metairie (see below) and a popular place to party during Mardi Gras, originating from the term Fat Tuesday (the literal translation of Mardi Gras).
  • “Fixin’ to”– About to
  • Flambeaux (flam’ bo)- Lit torches historically carried during night parades.
  • “Four Major Points on the NO Compass”– Of course the four major points on the NO compass are: Lakeside, Riverside, East Bank, and West Bank (over which the sun rises every day!)
  • Gallery (galllll rreeeee)- Balcony–walkway outside of homes on the second floor.
  • GNO– Greater New Orleans area.
  • Gris gris (gree gree)- Voodoo good luck charm
  • Gumbo Ya-Ya– Translated: everybody talking all at once; i.e., at a loud party.
  • Hurricane Party– What some residents do after securing their houses for a hurricane: throw a party! (If it’s safe to stay, that is!) Get some snacks, drinks, and buddies, and hunker down to watch the TV news give hurricane updates! Hurricane is also the name of a famous New Orleans drink. Be careful; they sneak up on you.
  • “It don’ madda”– Translated: “It doesn’t matter.”
  • King cake– Extra-large oval doughnut pastry dusted with colored candied sugar. A plastic baby doll is hidden inside the cake–the lucky person who gets the piece of cake with the doll inside (and doesn’t break a tooth or swallow it in the process!) buys the king cake for the next party of the Mardi Gras season.
  • Krewe (crue)- A Carnival organization’s members.
  • Lagniappe (lan’ yap)- Something extra that you didn’t pay for–thrown in to sweeten the deal–like a baker’s dozen.
  • Laissez les bons temps rouler (Lazay Lay Bon Tom Roulay)- Let the good times roll.
  • Lundi Gras– The day before Mardi Gras, when King Rex and King Zulu arrive on the riverfront.
  • Mardi Gras- Fat Tuesday, the day before Lent…The day to celebrate before the traditional Catholic tradition of sacrificing and fasting during the 40 days of Lent.
  • Maskers– Float riders and anyone dressed in costume.
  • Metairie (Met’ tree)- A suburb of New Orleans–between the airport and New Orleans.
  • MY-Nez– Translated: “mayonnaise”
  • “N’awlins”– “New Orleans”–It’s faster that way!
  • Neutral Ground– Median or grassy area between the paved areas on a boulevard. Named for the original Canal St division between the Americans and Creoles, who did not like each other.
  • Pantry (pan-tree)- Cupboard.
  • The Parish (da Parish)- Louisiana has parishes, not counties, but this often refers to Chalmette, a suburb outside of New Orleans.
  • “Pass a Good Time”– Translated: Have a good time.
  • Picayune (Pic’ ee yoon)
    • Small, nit-picky (It was a Spanish coin worth more than a nickel and less than a dime: 6 1/4 cents, to be precise)
    • Name of our newspaper, the “Times-Picayune”
    • Small town north of New Orleans in Mississippi.
  • Pirogue (Pee’ row) Yes, it sure looks funny!- Flat-bottomed canoe, perfect in the bayous.
  • Praline (Praw’ leen)- Brown sugar pecan-filled candy patty. (Very sweet and so delicious you can’t eat just one!)
  • Shotgun– Usually part of a “double”–a single row house in which all rooms on one side are connected by a long single hallway–you can open the front door and shoot a gun straight through the back door, without hitting a single wall…now, I have no idea who has tried this, or even why this is the way one describes these houses!
  • Slave Quarters– Houses behind the main building of large plantation homes where slaves used to live.
  • Soc Au’ Lait (Sock-o-lay)- Translated: sack of milk. Used in place of “What the?”, “Ouch!”, or “WOW!”
  • Tchoupitoulas Street (Chop a two’ les)- Interesting street name. One of the trickiest to pronounce–and spell!
  • Throws– Trinkets such as beads, cups, and doubloons tossed from the floats to the crowds during Mardi Gras parades.
  • “Throw Me Something, Mister!”– What everyone yells at parades to get throws from the maskers on the floats!
  • Uptown (uhp’ tawn)- Area “upriver” from the French Quarter.
  • Vieux Carre’ (Vooo ca ray’) (View ca ray’)- French for “Old Quarter,” this is a term used for the French Quarter, including world-famous Bourbon Street…experience it in any of our French Quarter Hotels.
  • Voodoo (Voo’ doo)- A form of witchcraft.
  • West Bank– You have to look east to see the “other” side of New Orleans, on the west bank of the Mississippi.
  • “Who Dat?”– A New Orleans Saints fan and a chant. “Who dat? Who dat? Who dat say dey gonna beat dem Saints?”
  • Yat– Standard greeting–(“Where yat?” is “Hello, how are you doing?”). “Yat”
  • is also used as as noun to describe a true native New Orleanian.
  • “Yea, you right!”– Translated: “Yes, you are right!”

Lingo courtesy of experienceneworleans.com

SA/TO Down South by Ava Feer

A letter from Jacob: Even before the revival of the Swizzle, SA/TO Down South has been a cornerstone of SWUSY. It’s changed through the years and had many different authors, but at its heart SA/TO Down South has always maintained the same goal: to educate the region about Social Action issues in our region, in our country, and across the world. Everyone who writes for it has the freedom to explore whatever topic they want. This year’s inaugural SA/TO Down South was written by Ava Feer, a member of the SA/TO Squad, from HouJew. She explores one of the biggest topics of the last year, and touches upon the Jewish idea of welcoming the stranger.

The refugee crisis that emerged in the autumn of 2015, that was caused by violent conflicts in Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan has left hundreds of thousands of refugees surging toward mainland Europe, one of the largest human migrations since World War 2.

Refugees trying to escape the wars in the Middle East and Central Asia have faced many hardships. Thousands have drowned in the Mediterranean. Many have been exploited and abused. Others have spent days stuck in freezing weather trying to cross various European borders. This crisis has shown the best and the worst of humanity and ordinary people have turned out to help the refugees as opposed to others who have exploited and shunned them.

Even though I am just seeing this tragedy on television, I am struck by the refugee camp for Syrians fleeing their homes. Whole families live in squalid conditions. Parents have no way to make money or provide for their kids and their children cannot go to school. I saw one interview in which the father of a family says he wished they never left Syria. This was shocking since the prospect of dying there was better than living in a refugee camp with no future.

European governments have been muddled in their response to the crisis. The Hungarian government built a fence along their border to keep migrants from traveling through Hungary to get to Germany. Balkan countries such as Serbia and Croatia responded by allowing migrants to travel through their land to reach other countries. Most northern European countries have welcomed migrants but recently Sweden and Denmark announced an increase in border controls and there is clearly opposition across Europe to taking more refugees.

The countries migrants travel through are small and poor, and some of them simply cannot cope with the sheer number of migrants. My mother is Croatian and I know first-hand that Croatia does not have the resources to host tens of thousands of refugees. This is why European nations need to work together to solve this problem. Quotas that are fair to all countries should be put in place. Money should be distributed to smaller and poorer countries to help ease the stress the migrants put on government resources. There is no good done by putting up border fences.

 

My family in Croatia has visited reception centers and brought the migrants anything they could spare; a few morsels of food, some clothing, some toys for children. Individuals can only so do so much though.  The governments must help these people. Until the European powers work together, this crisis will not diminish.

This crisis has a personal element for me. My parents met during the war that accompanied the disintegration of Yugoslavia. While they weren’t refugees, they were forced to leave. My father was an American journalist who was critical of the Croatian government and was advised he might be safer if he left Croatia. They did not take the threats seriously until a group of Croatian soldiers showed up at his house and started calling his name while shooting in the air. After that, they decided to leave because it was no longer safe to stay. Fortunately, they had the option of going to the US. Refugees now in Europe are faced with a similar dilemma before they set off on their trip in search of a better life. They had to decide whether to stay in their home and possibly be killed or take the risk of setting off into the unknown to find a better life.

There are many ways you can be part of the solution to this humanitarian crisis. The agency UNHCR is on the ground in countries such as Greece, and Italy and provide shelter food and water to refugees, they need all the donations they can get as winter is approaching and the flow of refugees shows no sign of easing. You can find out exactly how to donate at www.unhcr.org. This is the biggest and most wide reaching aid agency helping refugees.


Doing the right thing is never easy. But the refugee crisis is a test for humanity. European powers need to show the world that no human life is valued above another and that they welcome people in search of a better life.

Why Go To Spring Kallah? By Mem/Kad Sydney Suss

WHY SPRING?

 

“I’M A GOLDEN BOYYYYYYY, COME HERE TO ENJOYYYYY” I scream at the top of my lungs about 3 octaves off from the actual pitch of the song. I turn onto the road and take another sip of my tea. A flashback of IC sets into my head as I remember jumping up and down in my hotel room dancing with my roommates. Excitement rushes back through my body. Spring convention. Two weeks away. My family.

I think more about what I could possibly write for this next Swizzle post.

Fast forward to my AP US history class and here I am on my computer typing away.

Spring convention. A convention in between Fall Kallah and Regionals that never was actually during the springtime. If you were to choose what convention to go to and only could choose one for the year, I would tell you to come to Spring. I have several different reasons for this:

  1. It is the perfect time to be able to take a break for a weekend because it is in the middle of the school year.
  2. IT IS IN NEW ORLEANS
  3. We are getting to take a regional bus and drive together as one unit. This is the perfect opportunity to bond.
  4. The regional bus gives you the opportunity to do any homework if necessary because there is such a long drive.
  5. We get to experience Mardi Gras!
  6. Some of the best programs I have ever experienced are going to be at this convention. I can’t tell you what, but they are going to be soooo much fun!!!
  7. This gives people an opportunity to not just go to another state, but learn about a whole different culture separate of your own.

No, this isn’t a long article. But I will tell you this, there isn’t much to say. USY gives you the opportunity to do amazing things, and going to conventions is just another one of those things.

Wheels Wednesday; A Word From REC Jacquie Mitzner

Forty-three USYers. Five staff. Six and a half weeks. One family. These things are what changed my life for good; for the better. This past summer, I was extremely fortunate to spend my summer on USY on Wheels Bus A. For anyone who may not know, USY on Wheels is a six and a half week trip around the U.S., with about 40 other USYers from all over the United States and Canada. Some people may be disgusted or afraid of spending that much time on a bus, with people you have never met. But on Wheels, these people become more than just your friends, they become your family. I can’t think of a better way to have spent my summer.

  I could preach to you about how Wheels was the best summer of my life, and it will be the best summer of yours, all you have to do is sign up. Instead, I want to just tell you how much Wheels can affect you. Today, I still talk to my bus family everyday. We have a group chat, and when I’m feeling down, or have had a rough day, they are the people I turn to. They understand me almost better than anyone, and I trust each and every one of them with everything. There is nothing better than knowing that you have forty-two people waiting to be by your side, comfort you, be there for you. One day I may forget the places I went on Wheels, but I will never forget the people.

  I wish I could describe to you a ‘typical’ day on Wheels, but there really isn’t one. Each day is extremely unique and memorable in its own way. On the first night of my trip, I was roomed with a girl named Sarah Parsons, and her and I ended up having a pillow fight, even though we had just met hours go. Then on our longest bus ride (thirteen hours) we watched “Pitch Perfect” and during the finale everyone got out of their seats and started dancing in the aisle, while my friend Jacob was passed out on the floor, all of us jumping over him. You will laugh so hard your sides will start to hurt, and you can’t even remember why you are laughing.

  I can honestly say that Wheels has changed me and made me into the person I want to be. Before Wheels I had a bit of trouble going up to new people and having conversations with them, and sometimes just keeping the conversation going was a struggle. I didn’t have very much confidence in myself or in my abilities. I questioned my ability to lead, if I was really right for the job. One of the first days of Wheels, our staff had us fill out a chart: how introverted or extroverted do we think we are? Are we open to new experiences? And many more questions. Then towards the end of the trip they had us fill it out again. I was so much more comfortable with myself by the end than I was in the beginning. Wheels allows you, just like SWUSY, to be utterly, entirely, yourself, whoever that may be.

 On the last night of Wheels, our bus pulled into the parking lot, and everyone buckled their seat belts, for the first time, refusing to get of the bus. At least half of the people were crying at that moment (not gonna lie, I was one of them). Then the next day, the last day, each one of us, sat in the dirty parking lot, singing our bus song, Hamalach HaGoel Oti (so if I ever break down crying when we sing that in sloach, this is why.) Every single one of us was crying our eyes out. The minutes passed too quickly, and suddenly I was leaving my family, heading somewhere I didn’t even feel comfortable with calling home anymore. Bus A is my family, my home.

  I have been asked to describe Wheels in one word many times, and I never could think of a truly appropriate one until now. Home.