The first Torah portion we read this month is Yitro (Jethro), from the Book of Exodus. Yitro is one of six Torah portions named after a person (Noah, Sarah, Korach, Balak, and Pinchas are the others). Yitro was Moses’ father-in-law and a very righteous person. In Exodus 18:14-23, he tells Moses that he needs to delegate his power and that what Moses is doing is too much for one person to handle.

“What you are doing is not good. You will surely wear yourself out.” (Exodus 18:17-18)

This is when Moses starts to appoint leaders, letting them sort out minor issues and bringing only bigger issues to him. The past few weeks I have seen our youth leaders at Solel accomplish some amazing feats. Am I their Moses? Not even close. But I know under my leadership, they too will become strong leaders.

On January 12, at our annual MLK, Jr. Shabbat, three outstanding high schoolers: Lucy Rubinstein, Molly Seligman, and Sophie Seligman read verses aloud to the congregation in honor of Dr. King.

On MLK, Jr. Day, Solel invited Lakeside Congregation and Temple Jeremiah for a youth group day of service. We took a bus to the AmeriCorps Project YES! 11th Annual Literacy Fair in honor of Dr. King, then volunteered at the ARK in Chicago to help organize and sort their food pantry. We had 30 students from grades 1-8. Leadership knows no age!

On January 21, Joey Rosenblum, who serves as the
Co-VP of Social Justice on the youth group board, joined congregants and clergy from all over Chicagoland for the first Reform Illinois meeting. Joey will be involved in social justice issues like immigration, refugees, and equality.

As this hits your inbox on February 1, five of our high schoolers will be chaperoning one of our biggest youth group events to date this coming weekend — 40 kids going to the Chicago Wolves game for the 3rd year in a row!

Finally, later this month I will be completing the Certificate in Jewish Leadership program at Spertus Institute. The first half of the program was taught by professors from Spertus and Northwestern University with topics on collaboration and leadership. One concept we discussed at length with Dr. Hal Lewis, President and CEO of Spertus, was that Moses could not do everything himself. Jethro taught him to share power and delegate which was an important lesson for him.

I am fortunate to work with a group of amazing young leaders who are passionate about helping their synagogue, local community, and world around them. These young leaders make my job easier and more exciting!

– Michael Schneider
Assistant Director of Education, Youth, & Engagement

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