The Seaboard USY Region’s Mid-Winter Kinnus, or Convention, was hosted March 5-7 at Congregation Olam Tikvah in Fairfax, Virginia. The home-hospitality event was a first for the Fairfax community and drew 110 participants from three states and DC.
“One hundred and ten participants was amazing for a first-time event,” said Seaboard USY Regional Youth Director Sasha Bloch. It was also the region’s first mid-winter convention in at least 10 years, she said.
Seaboard Region USY is made up of 35 Conservative Jewish congregations throughout DC, Maryland, Virginia, and North Carolina. Seaboard USY engages hundreds of teens every year in meaningful programming based on its four pillars, said Bloch: community, leadership, friendship and ruach (spirit). Mid-Winter Kinnus was one of five weekend-long conventions that we run throughout the year for our middle and high school students.
The theme for each convention is kid-generated, said Sasha, and they can get pretty creative. The theme for this convention was “Shipwrecked,” and it was incorporated in the décor, activities, and educational content of the weekend. There was a “pirate shuk” with 14 booths and pirate trivia as well. For instance, did you know that most Jewish pirates came from Spain and Portugal? Or that the signs of a Jewish pirate headstone in a cementary were a Jewish star, Hebrew writing, and the classic skull and crossbones?
The organization’s emphasis on connection with Israel was also incorporated, with a Bisli tasting and the chance to personalize Israeli flags and share thoughts about “What Israel Means to Me.”
Other activities over the weekend included learning about the Wounded Warrior Project and writing letters to wounded warriors, and discussions through a Jewish lens about peer pressure, bullying, and other important topics “that affect their lives in USY and outside USY,” said Bloch. On Sunday, participants raised over $600 for charity in a very sprited live auction and put together 300 mishloach manot packages for delivery in the Greater Washington area. The contents included hand-decorated masks, clementines, and of course, hamentaschen.