In education, First, stories, youth

Are you ready to change the world? L’Taken Reflections

Written by: Lisa Isen Baumal

This past weekend, I accompanied some of our HBT teens to Washington DC for L’Taken – a Social Justice seminar run by the Religious Action Center.  We were joined by some teens from City Shul and the Danforth Jewish Circle, with whom we are partnering with for teen programming, to create a ‘southern Toronto’ network of Jewish teens.

L’Taken is an amazing and empowering immersive learning experience.  Teens learn about current issues, and why they are important to us as Reform Jews.  Issues including migration, climate change, reproductive rights, mental health, and more.  Our students not only came away with knowledge but also learned and practiced advocacy tools to speak and act on behalf of the issues they are most passionate about.  As the only Canadians in a sea of close to 400 American teens, our 8 Toronto youth left a lasting impression on their American peers and represented our country and our congregation with grace.  They made many new friendships over the four days, as they participated in sessions, celebrated Shabbat, and also had the opportunity to visit and tour some significant sites in the city.  One notable experience was celebrating Havdallah on the steps of the Jefferson Memorial.  The steps were a sea of candlelight, as each teen held a candle as we all sang the blessings together, looking out at the nighttime skyline of Washington.

Our visit to Washington culminated with a visit to the Canadian Embassy, where we met with one of the Political Secretaries, as well as two interns.  Our students shared prepared speeches about climate change, Israel and migration.  They were beyond impressed with the polished way our students shared their personal narratives, cited Jewish sources, and passionately spoke to the importance of these various issues.

Our teens returned home energized and feeling empowered, and I look forward to working on their next steps with them!

Adelaide Bertoia-Dixon shares this brief reflection on her time at L’Taken:

Last weekend I had one of the best experiences of my life. I went to a program hosted by the RAC (Religious Action Center for Reform Judaism) called L’Taken. During the program, we learned all kinds of things, such as how to lobby, about our heritage, and bonding with our American neighbours. I am a returning student of 2 years and I came back because of the things I learned and the friends I made. Since I have made headway into social action, I will continue to try to lobby for things that are important to me and to my community. L’Taken has given me a reason to get involved and stay involved and I know I will keep going back for the rest of my high school career.

 

Click here to read their speeches!

 

 

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