It was the seventies in Leeds. Youth movements and flares were all the rage. I hung out at Habo then boogied at BBYO. Then came the eighties, I laughed the whole way through the Leeds and Yorkshire Israel Tour and in the sixth form had fun at FZY. Then came my year off in Israel – Machon, Kibbutz, Moshav and Ashkelon – marvellous, kef, magnificent and amazing.
My student years? You guessed it – Hillel House and J-Soc (and happy hour cocktails and curries.)
Nearly thirty years on and my kids are having similar experiences, only with better hairstyles.
Last year, I took my daughter to a pre-Tour Israel fair to help her choose which movement would lead her though this rite of passage experience. By the end of the evening, she had narrowed it down to three – Habonim, FZY and BBYO. She went with Noam.
My son had the time of his life at RSY camp and now goes to BBYO on a Wednesday evening in Pinner.
So what, apart from alliteration, has this provincial youth movement floozy and her equally flighty offspring learnt from her experiences?
My kids will berate me for saying this, but basically ‘it’s all good in da hood.’ It’s about getting involved and being part of something special. It’s about Judaism and Israel and continuity.
There’s things you have to do in life: honour your parents, embarrass your children and, as Mr Bon Jovi says, keep the faith.
My daughter, more intellectual and sophisticated than her mother (although so is a banana), debated and reflected about the State of Israel on her Tour. (She also pulled, which is more than I managed to do.) Alas, the romance with the lad is over, but not with Israel and she is thinking of taking a year off before she goes to University. She has completed a leadership course with Noam, getting herself out of bed on a Sunday morning ready for a 9.30 start. Respect. This summer she hopes to be a madricha at a summer camp for younger kids and it’s nothing to do with her being bossy, apparently.
So send your kids to Jewish youth groups. Conscious uncoupling of child from mobile phone helps them to engage with the real world and have a jolly good time while they’re at it.
With the help of UJIA we can teach our children and teach them well (Crosby, Stills & Nash).