Re-finding My Youth
Cantor Ilan Davidson
For those who knew me 24 years ago, when I started at Temple Beth El, you know that my roots beyond the Cantorate lie in Jewish Education and Youth Direction. Long before I decided to become the Cantor of Temple Beth El, I knew that I wanted to have a career working with Jewish Youth and teaching adolescents and pre-adolescents. Let’s face it, to rephrase the late, great Dick Clark, I always wanted to be America’s Oldest Jewish Teenager. So, it seemed a perfect ﬁt when our co-presidents, Eric and Gale, asked me to take over the oversight responsibilities of Youth Engagement, here at TBE.
It is truly a pleasure reaching back into my old Youth Director days as we grow our Youth Programs once again. Our new Family Shabbat with student participation and sponsored Shabbat dinners were only the beginning (we can always use more sponsors). We have recently brought on Jaron and Hope Brunner as our new Yaldai Shalom advisors, joining with SPeTY advisor, Rachel Fisher, in volunteering their time to help grow our youth programs. They have already begun NEW traditions, like Yaldei Shalom Hang Out Night on our Family Shabbatot and SPeTY Game Night, running during the Oneg Shabbat after the Musical Shabbat Service. As we all get to know our youth better, we know that these programs will only grow and become stronger. Our connection to NFTY, the North American Federation of Temple Youth, is solidiﬁed with the cooperation of our Senior Regional Youth Director, and our strong historic connections.
Another NEW program is our monthly Zoom Siyyum. What is a siyyum? Every night at NFTY events and URJ Camps, we ﬁnish the day with a siyyum, an opportunity to share what is coming up in the coming day and then say goodnight with shema and hashkiveinu. Our Zoom Siyyum, using the technology of Zoom Meetings, is for me to inform our Youth and their families of upcoming Yaldei Shalom (6th–8th grades), SPeTY (9th–12th grades), and NFTY/Camp events for the month at Temple Beth El, regionally, and even nationally, at times. We will engage in this practice every month on the 1st of the month (unless it conﬂicts with Shabbat or Holy Days), as together we rebuild our Youth Programs.
It is truly an honor and privilege to be part of developing our overarching Youth Engagement for Temple Beth El. I look forward to guiding our youth to be the next leaders, not only in their own programs, but in Temple Beth El, and ultimately the global Jewish community. Together with our Youth Committee (which always has openings for interested members), Linda Gren, Rachel Fisher, and Jaron and Hope Brunner, may we all be chanting: Am Yisraeil Hai Min HaNoar—through our youth will the people of Israel continue to live.