Lauren Hannani staff writer
Many teenagers meet their friends through Instagram or Snapchat, but senior Noah Lee meets his friends through United Synagogue Youth (USY) by travelling around the country and meeting teens associated with this organization.
As international president of USY, which currently has more than 10,000 participants in 17 regions across North America, Lee’s main job is chair officer of the international executive board. This board serves five specialties: Israel Affairs, Religion/Education, Social Action, Membership and Communications.
“My role is tri-fold. On one hand, I am there to support the regional and chapter presidents from across North America,” Lee said. “I will be spending the year visiting many chapters and regions, and I will mentor them by hosting meetings and devoting my time to being their friends.”
Along with meeting thousands of Jewish teens around the continent, Lee also serves as a leader of the business aspect of the group.
“I will also serve on committees to shape the future of our organization, working on long- term business plans,” Lee said. “I will have one term to take up a project/focus to guide the organization in a particular direction.”
Lee has been involved with USY since middle school, which was when he aspired to become a committed member of the organization.
“I absolutely loved the spirit…everyone was so inclusive and welcoming. I felt like I was a part of something really special. That same feeling I had in eighth grade kept me coming back,” Lee said. “I looked up to leaders at the time, and realized the power of the organization and the positive influence the president has on his/her constituents. I desired such a relationship with USYers, one of mentorship and support.”
USY also consists of a social action branch, which includes creating programs for special needs children, and raising money to support local and international charities. For Lee, being a part of this group has been more than just being a part of a circle of conservative Jewish teens.
“The experience has provided me meaning in my life, something more than just [the] monotonous and extracurriculars,” Lee said. “It has empowered me to be a Jew in a secular society. It has given me the tools I need to advocate for Israel. Most importantly, it has provided me with life- long friendships.”
Many of Lee’s friends in USY are thankful for his friendship and dedication to his job.
“During our meetings, Noah always keeps us on a schedule that he lays out in advance. He makes sure we address every important issue at hand, and also ensures that every board member has time to talk,” senior Joey Abeles said. “He works hard to help us achieve our goals.”
Lee hopes to stay a part of this influential group after high school and continue travelling with the group and meeting new people.
“Although my term only lasts until next December, I plan to stay involved for much longer than that,” Lee said. “I hope to stay active even throughout college, hopefully being an advisor and serving as a role model for future Jewish leaders.”