Blog  Renewing Our Passion Through Learning Together

Renewing Our Passion Through Learning Together

Lizzie Stein is the Leadership Development Associate at the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism.  Lee Smith is from Arlington, VA and is a member of Temple Rodef Shalom in Falls Church, VA.

We are Lee and Lizzie. We have spent the past 3 weeks together, one as a participant in the Action and Advocacy Immersive, powered by the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, and one as teacher of the immersive. Actually, our relationship goes waaaay back to April when we met at NFTY-MAR’s Spring Kallah. For both of us, this meeting gave future insight into what our summer experience would be like.

Lee: For me, Kutz was always this other camp that I heard about from friends at Camp Harlam. Going in, I had no idea what exactly to expect, but I knew it was going to be an experience that would set me on a path to do the things that I care about. I chose the Action and Advocacy Immersive because I was the Social Action Vice President of my Temple Youth Group, and I felt like there was no one who could tell me how to do my job as well as I wanted. Kutz seemed like a good opportunity to learn the skills I wasn’t able to learn in my TYG. Meeting Lizzie at Spring Kallah made it real for me. I was meeting the physical person who was going to teach me for the summer, which got me excited to learn the skills to be the leader I wanted to be, in life and in NFTY.

Lizzie: When it was decided that I would teach at Kutz this summer, I was honestly a little nervous. I had spent a week here for Mechina as a teen, but I had never spent a full summer here and I wasn’t sure what to expect. On top of this, I was tasked with designing the curriculum that would become the new Action and Advocacy Immersive. When I met Lee, I began to understand who I was designing the curriculum for. In the moments before camp when I felt stuck, I would picture Lee’s backpack, covered in social justice pins and patches, each one representing an issue she cares about. As I designed the curriculum and the lessons, projects and discussions that would fill it, I kept Lee in mind. I tried to design a curriculum that would help participants grow as leaders and give them the skills they would need to mobilize their communities into action around the issues that are important to them.

Lee: Being at Kutz has been both a meaningful community and the kind of learning environment that suits me. At school, I am always frustrated because I feel like I am not learning about anything that I care about and I only retain information long enough to pass a test on it. Coming to Kutz, I realized there was a place that I could learn about and enjoy the things I felt would help me in life. In Action and Advocacy, our lessons on learning how to tell great stories, have meaningful one on one conversations, and effectively organize people to action is some of the most valuable information that I can learn in terms of my future career. I have also gained leadership skills and insights that have made me rethink how I am going to lead in my TYG this year.

Lizzie: This summer has exceeded all of my expectations. I have so enjoyed working with and teaching Lee and all of the participants in my immersive. To me, leadership means being the person you want to be in the world and coming to Kutz to pass on experiences of community organizing and social justice fulfilled that definition. If they have learned as much from me as I have learned from them, I would consider this summer a success.

As we both get ready to head home, we leave with a clear sense of purpose in our justice work. Learning together in this community has give us a renewed energy for the months ahead. This is the kind of experience that could have only happened at Kutz.