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My Final Hurrah!
Posted on 08/01/2012 @ 11:47 PM
My Final Hurrah!
Wednesday August 1st, 2012. I awoke to a feeling both foreign and all too familiar. This was the end of my BBYO career. This was to be the last full day I would ever spend in BBYO as a participant. The organization that had given me so much over the past few years was now being removed from my life the second I board my flight tomorrow. It was a scary, yet surprisingly comforting feeling knowing that this is my last day. Throughout the day, this feeling would only grow.
We began our day with a college/university information session followed by a tour - something that was not needed for me, seeing as I have already accepted at Brandeis. As my peers asked their questions about the process and selection, I sat their imagining myself in their shoes. What if I had another year to make an Impact? What if I was given a second opportunity to return to my home community and make my chapter have an impact? But alas, my imagination is not the reality I live in, so I sat quietly and listened.
After the tour, we had the presentations of what the groups had been doing over the past few weeks at our service sites. It was amazing to see so many members of BBYO truly get what it means to do service. I recall one part of a presentation, where a participant volunteering at the elderly home called his grandfather after one visit. It was so powerful to see that these teens, my peers knew that this wasn’t something we were doing for community service hours or for a resume, but rather that this was something that is part of the 613 mitzvot of our Jewish faith – the only requirement to participate on this program.
Following these presentations, we had our final curriculum session. At this session, we talked about bringing our impact home and the connection between your mind, might, and heart as symbolized by the t’filin. We then wrote down our goals and what we dedicate ourselves to in letters that we will receive in 6 months. After that we had packing time until dinner. Packing up my stuff was different than every time previous for me. Normally, I just throw things in my suitcase and pack everything tightly together. But today, I made sure all of my clothes were folded neatly and that it fit nicely into my suitcase. I guess I just want to pack up my BBYO career the same way I packed my luggage today.
After a B-B-Q dinner, we hung out, sung songs and relaxed in the mini-quad. We then had our closing program – styled after the Olympics. There was jello jousting, capture the flag, Israeli paddleball and two others that escape my memory at the current time. I played capture the flag and worked up a good sweat.
As of 10:41 PM, on August 1, 2012, I, Jesse Freedman am at my computer, typing out what will be my last submission as a member of this great organization. Impact: Chicago will be over in less than 16 hours for me and with that first step onto my plane, my life is forever changed.
Gone are the opportunities to attend every summer program I have yet to experience. Behind me are the leadership opportunities in the Aleph Zadik Aleph. And with that first step, I begin my journey in the desert for another place to call home.
But not lost are the friends I have made across our Order and in BBG. Forever, I shall remember the moments of these summer programs that gave me a place of security during the 4 most volatile years of my life. Never fleeting will be the knowledge that wherever I go in life and whatever I do, I will have my fellow Alephs and sister BBGs to count on. I will always be certain that I can have somewhere to call home.
It’s actually pretty ironic, as I’m typing this - the final blog for Impact: Chicago, the song Brothers in Arms comes on and I cannot help but to tear up knowing that at 1:00 PM tomorrow, as I step onto that flight, my life is forever changed. Impact: Chicago has been an amazing experience for me. If there is one recommendation I can make, it is that you should go on summer programs or send your teen on one. I know that they changed my life in so many ways – I can only hope that someone else can have the same experience I did in BBYO. Thank you to Ben for having an unbelievable 1st time ever Impact: Chicago and thank you to everyone who has helped me in any way during my time in BBYO. And for the last time ever,
I currently remain,
Aleph Jesse Michael Freedman
I Got a Golden Ticket
Posted on 07/31/2012 @ 11:47 PM
I Got a Golden Ticket
Today marked our last trip to our service sites at IMPACT: Chicago. As a coordinator, I have been fortunate enough to travel with all of the groups, and experience the different service sites first hand. I couldn’t have asked for a better day to end my Impact experience than a wonderful trip with UCAN to the Albanese Candy Factory. We were able to socialize and mingle with the senior citizens (not high schoolers!) on the bus ride to the factory, and were ecstatic when we arrived.
We started off exploring the massive candy shop in awe of the hundreds of candy flavors, and infinite mixtures of chocolate they had to offer. Later we went on a short, but interesting tour of the factory where we saw the gummy bears being made and learned a little about the history and progression of the company. It was unbelievable how many hundreds of thousands of pounds of gummy bears, chocolate, peanuts, and candy they make every day.
After the tour we had a very important decision to make… what candies would make the trip home, and which ones would not make the cut. Luckily, to fuel our opinions, we were able to sample a lot of candy and even more chocolate. Among my favorite were the peanuts covered in peanut butter, then dipped in chocolate, the milk chocolate caramel with sea salt on top, the yogurt covered pretzels, and their infamous 12 flavors of gummy bears. But I think after sampling the many different chocolates and candies, my favorite had to have been the delicious chocolate covered gummy bears. It was very cool walking around the candy shop with the senior citizens, and even cooler seeing how happy they were to not only be buying candy, but being able to socialize, and have conversations with all of the participants. We were able to bond over something we both truly loved: candy. When the day was finally over we had to say our final goodbyes to all the people at UCAN, which was definitely emotional for the participants who had been working with them for five days. Fortunately, we were able to relieve our grief with a delicious lunch at Portillo’s where we had delicious Chicago hotdogs, chili, and their famous Italian beef sandwich. Overall it was an incredible experience to have as my final day of service, and I couldn’t have asked for a better group (or field trip) to share it with. It’s crazy to think that tomorrow is our last day, and I know there will be even more incredible things planned for tomorrow.
Until next time, live long and prosper,
Take Me Out to the Ball Game
Posted on 07/30/2012 @ 11:47 PM
Take Me Out to the Ball Game
Today, I was fortunate in that not only was I able to spend another day helping out disadvantaged pre-school and kindergarten children, I was also able to hear from 3 inspirational businessmen/women and philanthropists and attend my very first baseball game. I really enjoy spending time helping out the children at onward neighbourhood house, during which I feel that I am truly making an impact in their lives whilst enhancing my own.
Later on in the day, we were treated to a panel of 3 inspirational people who have not only made their mark during their impressive careers, but have used their positions to help out others, giving both their time and money. This was impressive in itself, and it was great to hear how these people, including michael jordan's manager, have stayed in touch with their jewish identity, which is so important to all of them in their own individual way.
Coming from Manchester England, I have had a number of experiences during Impact:Chicago which have been somewhat different to that I experience in the uk. I have learnt about the american culture, and imparted my british culture to others, enjoying the differences in our culture and language, which has caused much amusement throughout the week! Everyone seems to like my british accent and will use the words which I have taught them (most of which are appropriate!) However, one such experience, and the highlight of my week so far, was attending my very first baseball game tonight! Coming from England, I have never played, seen or knew much about baseball. I am a football fan (I refuse to call the sport 'soccer' for fear of losing all my british identity!) and was very interested to see the differences in the two sports. I thoroughly enjoyed the game, and tried to bring some english chants and screams to the game (without too much profanity which although is the norm in English football games is not welcomed in baseball) to a game in which americans support with amazing calmness and dignity. I enjoyed singing the American national anthem (with my fingers crossed!) and the song 'take me out to the ball game' and as so often has been the case during this trip, I could not believe the politeness of american fans. I loved learning about the game with a 20 minutes crash-course from Jason, which I now hope to support from England, with the Chicago Cubs becoming my team (we beat the pirates 14-4 tonight!). I saw 3 home-runs in a very exciting game, in which we beat the 'bloody' pirates (and no we do not all go to Hogwarts!) It was a nice change from the screaming lunatics in England. I guess I am not used to stopping halfway throughout the game to sing the YMCA and get a pretzel (which we don't have in the UK, much to my dismay!) I even managed to get a game ball which is a great souvenir of the game! It was great to be able to cheer with my new American friends from Impact:Chicago with whom I have become very close to and will stay in contact with from across the pond! Let's go Cubbies!!
CLTC 7 Note from the coordinators
Posted on 07/30/2012 @ 10:46 AM
Posted on 07/29/2012 @ 11:47 PM
Today marked Tish B’av, the saddest holiday in the Hebrew calendar. It commemorates the destruction of both the First and Second Temple in Jerusalem. While the day recalls general tragedies which have befallen the Jewish people over the ages, we decided to link his holiday to current events that are occurring in our own communities.
We started the holiday Saturday evening, right after Havdalah. Setting the mood we talked about some of the tragedies that occur in today’s society, such as lack of education, economic devastation and hunger. We lit candles for each modern disaster, and began reflection on our journeys at our service sites throughout the Chicago area.
This afternoon we headed off to the Chicago Holocaust museum to pay respect for our ancestors. As we walked through each corridor we found ourselves not only mourning the death of millions, but also celebrating our life, and our future as Jewish leaders. Even though this is considered the saddest day, we ended with a message of hope singing Hatikvah, the national anthem of Israel.