Chanukah is a time for making the world brighter. Each night of Chanukah we’ll be featuring stories from teens serving on the Jewish Teen Alliance of Chicago (JTAC) sharing how adding their Jewish experiences add light to our community. JTAC members are representatives of Chicago’s amazing teen programs. For the fourth night, we will hear from Allison about her experience with USY.
My name is Allison Finn, and I represent USY on the Jewish Teen Alliance of Chicago (JTAC). USY (United Synagogue Youth) is the Conservative Movement’s youth group. USY is for high-school-aged Jewish teens all over North America and centers around leadership, inclusivity, Tikkun Olam, Israel, and more.
I got involved in USY in 3rd grade when I was able to participate in Kadinkers and Kadima programming (now known as Gesher and Chaverim). This is programming geared towards elementary and middle school-aged kids. Since this time, I’ve been able to develop my love for USY that has been rooted in me for so many years. Once I was able to transition to USY and High School, I began to grow my leadership in the organization. I have been honored to serve on my chapters board (BJUSY) as the Israel Affairs VP, Executive VP, and President (my current role). I even got the chance to serve on the Chicago Region (CHUSY) general board, planning a weekend convention for middle schoolers.
Regionally, my favorite program that I have attended was the spring convention (Kinnus) in 2019. During this weekend I was able to make deeper connections with friends, learn more about Judaism, and grow as a human. I have also loved attending and leading various chapter events including going Ice skating in the city, Yom Ha'atzmaut celebrations, and an Interfaith ‘Feed My Starving Children’ program.
Additionally, I will be attending International Convention in Washington D.C. in December. At International Convention I will be participating in social action projects around the city, connecting with Jewish Teens from all around North America, and growing my love for Judaism. USY has inspired me to step out of my comfort zone, provided a space to truly be myself, and helped deepen my connection and love for Judaism and Israel.
About the Author: Allison is a junior at Buffalo Grove High School. In addition to USY, she is also currently a part of Diller Teen Fellows, Shalom Corps, serves as a Jewish Student Connection (JSC) Leader, and has attended Camp Chi for the last 7 years. She loves to be a leader in the Jewish community and is excited to be a part of JTAC this year!