By Talia Goldman
On a Sunday afternoon, after a long week of work, I sit in the Beit Tefillah in New North London Synagogue contemplating why I am spending the last few precious hours of my weekend talking to a group of seventeen year olds about ideological engagement, while they are still reeling from something absolutely monumental that happened on Saturday night.
They run up to me, desperate to fill me in on the latest gossip – since leading them on Israel Tour the previous summer, I have unintentionally become privy to all of their teenage escapades.
As the class draws to a close, I count the weeks that I have left to teach them all there is to know about Hadracha (leadership) until they are qualified and prepared to become Madrichim (leaders) themselves. These feisty, intelligent chatterboxes that only a few months ago were in my care and for whom I was responsible, will in a few months’ time be caring for their own Chanichim (participants), for whom they will be responsible.
I glance around the room and cannot help but wonder what their Noam journey will look like from here on out. I think back to my first ever Summer Camp with Noam, eleven years ago when I was only twelve years old, at the start of my Noam journey. I had no idea what lay ahead of me; two more Camps and Israel Tour as a participant, four Camps and Israel tour as a leader in various roles of responsibility and, finally, that I would be sitting here today as a Movement Worker.
I look at these young people, fading out of their time as Chanichim and into their time as Madrichim, wondering where they will end up. Some may lead Camp once and realise that the intensity of being in a Loco Parentis position is simply not for them. Some may love every minute but only manage to commit for a few years before the reality of adult life begins to kick in and priorities such as work experience and internships prevail.
Then there are those who will see Noam through until the very end. Among this group, there may be those who will go on to lead Israel Tour, experiencing what I experienced when I lead them and how, in spite of the exhaustion, late night meetings and crisis management, it will be one of the greatest experiences of their lives. There will be those who keep finding an excuse to stay involved with the Movement, finding a new role to fill on Camp every year because there is no place where they’d rather spend their summer than in the Noam bubble.
Finally, my hope is that among this group, there are some who will one day be sitting in my seat. The ones who will spend every day of their lives trying to make their mark on their Movement. Whose role it will be to plan the programmes that they once participated in as children and as leaders, to engage with Masorti communities and members on University campuses, to manage the social media accounts that used to keep them up to date with the Movement that they now run… and finally, to spend their Sunday afternoons teaching the future of the Movement how to be great leaders, just as they themselves were once taught.