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Congregation Etz Chayim's first USY program attracts 44 preteens from Grades 5-7

by Rhonda Spivak, March 28, 2023

Congregation Etz Chayim's first USY program attracts 44 preteens from Grades 5-7 


Avrom Charach, President of Congregation Etz Chayim says that "One of the major drivers, if not the primary reason, of our synagogue’s decision to rejoin USCJ (United Synagogue Conservative Judaism) was the ability to access the USY (United Synagogue Youth) program. 


"We felt that there was a need for USY’s type of programming in our city.  We believe that USY is an investment not only in the future of  Congregation Etz Chayim but also in Winnipeg’s Jewish community."


USY's first program was held on Saturday February 25, and there were 44 preteens from Grade 5-7 who attended the event, which was  held at LaserTopia off Waverley. Monica Neiman, Program Director at Congregation Etz Chayim indicated that "The evening included time for the preteens to play laser tag, some of the arcade games and havdalah to round out the evening."


When  asked if those who attended the event were from Etz Chayim families or others whose families are not members of Etz Chayim, Neiman responded "The group consisted of preteens from Etz Chayim as well as from across the Winnipeg Jewish Community."


Neiman noted that "We received overwhelmingly positive feedback from parents ahead of the event and after the program. They were pleased that we are offering something for this age group."


Natan Skladnik, who has been hired as the USY advisor, has worked with this age group of Jewish youth before at Camp Massad. He also has prior leadership experience from both Camp Massad and BBYO. Natan is in year four of a Bachelor of Science degree with Honours in Neuroscience at U of W. 

In terms of future USY programs, Neiman  says that " Natan is currently working on plans for another program in April as well as a program in May for Lag B'Omer. Both programs as well as future ones will weave together social connection with Jewish content. USY is about connecting preteens and teens to each other and helping them build their Jewish identity. We hope to attract the same group size if not more to our next events."


Neiman gave more specifics of the upcoming programs, indicating that oSunday, April 30 Natan will taking a group of pre-teens/teens in Grades 5-7 to Wheelies Roller Rink for some afternoon skating, snacks and Passover themed games. We are also making plans for Lag B'Omer on Monday evening, May 8 to host a bonfire, enjoy some snacks and games. Location is to be determined."

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Rhonda Spivak, Editor

Publisher: Spivak's Jewish Review Ltd.

Opinions expressed in letters to the editor or articles by contributing writers are not necessarily endorsed by Winnipeg Jewish Review.