Taking It All In – Rachel Posner, CLIP: New York 2015

Posner,_Rachel_–_Photo,_2015_3861_2015-05-26As I sit in my fully packed car on my way back to the lovely Williamsburg, Virginia, I have the chance to really reflect and process what happened this summer. As we like to say in CLIP, “If you don’t process it, it never happened.” Never before have I found a mantra that truly motivates me to sit down and reflect in the purest form.

In turn, as my contribution to the flourishing CLIP 2015 blog, I’m going to attempt to write out some reflections from this past summer. It may not make perfect sense, but to me, that’s what reflection is all about: making sense out of the nonsense that runs through my mind.

I essentially applied for CLIP because I was feeling a little bit lost – I haven’t declared a major yet, but have already taken 30 credits worth of classes at William & Mary, and I was still unsure of what path to go down (both literally and figuratively). I found CLIP and I applied thinking, “This program seems pretty Jewish… but Judaism has always been something that I can turn to… so I might as well give it a shot.”

Ironically, I finished this summer feeling the exact same as I had going into the summer; Judaism is my home; it’s somewhere, someone, or something that I can always turn to. One of the main goals of CLIP was to “affirm, nuance, or change” our status quo, both personal and professional. In this way, I can proudly say that all of my experiences with CLIP— from the first day of orientation featuring many new faces and a jokingly-serious “Great Bagel Debate,” through the day-to-day responsibilities at the URJ, and all the way through the last goodbyes at the closing ceremony— have given me a more clear understanding of how Judaism fits into my life, and thus affirmed my belief that Judaism is my home.

My day-to-day interactions with Jay, Gabriel, and the other members of the cohort were such a gift to me. As the type of person who is motivated by making connections with others, I could not have asked for a more fantastic setting to explore both my Jewish beliefs and practices, as well as my non-Jewish beliefs and practices. I went home after each Wednesday seminar eager to start new conversations about values, getting to know yourself, and the art of processing/reflecting. On the other end of the spectrum, I was also eager to start new conversations about Jewish practices that were different than my own, the structure of the Jewish professional world, and tons of new connections established through a never-ending game of Jewish Geography. On the note of “affirm, nuance, or change,” I would classify these new conversations and knowledge as nuancing my beliefs, by understanding them more deeply and modifying the lens through which I look at the Jewish world.

I also went through a deep-rooted, out-of-body, existential crisis (I do mean “crisis” in the best way possible). Before CLIP began, if I were to look at the imaginary web of my existence, I would place Judaism as one of the outer pieces of my being that is present de facto, mainly because I grew up Jewish, I can read Hebrew, I went to Jewish camp, etc. Now, I look at Judaism as an active choice that I make over and over again, each day that I wake up. Because of that choice, in the imaginary web of my existence, Judaism is closer to the center – it now has the power to impact so much more. The “crisis” portion of that was trying to understand what it means for Judaism to be such an important part of myself, and how others perceive me because of it. My attempt to understand my identity was a daily endeavor for me. Since I do go to school in southeast Virginia (where “thriving” is not a word that I would use to describe the Jewish population), I feel that it is important to figure out how to present myself to those who have never met a Jewish person before. Relating to “affirm, nuance, or change,” I would definitely catalogue this personal journey as a change. Before this summer, I had never attempted to look at my identity from the outside.

So, I would just like to express my gratitude to Jay, Gabriel, as well as the other 42 members of our cohort, for each contributing to an experience that simultaneously affirmed, nuanced, and changed my beliefs. Although, I know that this exciting adventure is not over, and this is only the beginning of my journey through processing my time in CLIP.

Reflections of Gratitude – Kelly Whitehead, CLIP: New York 2015

Whitehead,_Kelly-_Photo_2015_9648_2015-05-25There is an inexplicable feeling when all of a sudden you look at someone, and realize that each random passerby is living a life just as vivid and complex as your own. It is a truly a moment of awe when you discover other individuals have their own subconscious, contemplations, and life experiences. There is a different reason for everyone being where they stand and a different story behind how they got there.

Personally, this sudden realization is why CLIP, and its goal to bring 43 unique people together, is extraordinary. Everyone in our cohort has our own understandings and personal stories. One the morning of June 3, most of us came from distinguishing experiences, hearing about the program through various methods and applying to the program with unique characteristics.  And here we are today, thanks to the generosity of many others, no longer strangers, but one connected cohort.

As a group, we shared our journeys, allowing us to form a broader understanding of the Jewish and professional world around us. We learned not to “single story,” or stereotype the experiences of others. We learned during seminars, on Monday nights, and on our own time the various ways Judaism looks for all of us. We learned where Jewish donations go and how to be at summer camp in the most humid day of the year. We learned about the woes of the current Jewish education system and how to prepare for an interview. We learned how to apply our Strengths to the workplace and how to pray together as one community. We learned how to network and the difference between operational and developmental SMART goals. The lessons we are walking away with are as countless as memories we made.

In addition, we learned that Judaism does not allow us to become self-absorbed. We have a responsibility for one another, in addition to the world around us. When we step into the Bronfman Center, we live beyond ourselves, and become aware of the greater community of our people. This Jewish value of selflessness is the very reason all of our different paths converged this summer.  We would not be here today if it were not for the kindness and generosity of those who made it possible.

First, thank you to the Bronfman Center for Jewish Life at NYU and to Rabbi Sarna for providing us with a place to call home. In just 10 weeks, we learned the value of having a sacred space to share and grow. Thank you to UJA-Federation of New York for teaching us the importance of the Jewish community in the lives of others, not to mention taking so many of us in for a great internship experience. And to the Jewish Foundation for the Education of Women, as one of the fellows supported by your organization, thank you for the inspiring work you do for all women. It is regrettable that there is such a norm in our society of unpaid internships, and your support this summer enabled a large percentage of our cohort to not have to make the decision between wages and professional development.

Thirty years ago, CLIP was started within an organization called FEGS Health and Human Services. Sadly, this Spring, FEGS closed its doors. Although it will no longer be able to take interns or provide support, we are grateful to FEGS for starting and nurturing a program that has benefitted so many to this day. Particularly to Esther-Ann Asch, one of the founders of the program and former vice presidents at FEGS, thank you for your hilarious jokes and warm words of wisdom. I know we all can go to you for anything, including good bar recommendations. Thank you for your presence as the 44th member of our cohort.

To the duo that made our summer an unforgettable and seamless experience, thank you. Because of you, we are better Jews, better professionals, and overall better-educated members of our communities. Gabriel, thank you for choosing a fantastic group of college students. Thank you for leading us on a path to successful and being a Jewish role model. Most importantly, thank you for answering our annoying questions about your fiancé. Jay, thank you for teaching us the ways to become highly effective people. Your humor, talent, passion for life, and patience with us is admirable beyond words. From singing at the Shabbaton to bringing us to a place of productive discomfort, you are selflessly providing us with the tools we need to succeed. Although we may not show it at times, we are incredibly grateful for the hard work you devote year round to our summer program.

To my fellow CLIPterns, thank you for being vulnerable. Thank you laughing, sharing, standing, and simply great being friends to lean on. I am so grateful for all of the one-on-one moments I’ve had with each and every one of you. Although we come from individual places, we were all brought together because of those who made it possible.

Closing Ceremony Reflections – Elon Schmidt-Swartz, CLIP: New York 2015

Schmidt-Swartz,_Elon_Photo_2015_1690_2015-05-26“Well, you see, it’s this program where Jews get together to learn and to grow,” I mumbled to my new roommates. It was Sunday June 2nd, and I was moving into my first Manhattan apartment, experiencing my first ever summer rainstorm, meeting five random people who would be my roommates for the summer, and attempting to explain to these individuals what it is that I would be doing for the next 10 weeks.

“Grow?” one of my roommates asked.

“Is this for bodybuilding?” another roommate interjected. He stared at my scrawny figure in disbelief.

“No bodybuilding,” I assured. “It’s this thing where we do Jewish stuff but also internships. But the internship is also Jewish. Well, it’s like community service. But we’re getting paid.”

“How much are you making an hour?” the third roommate asked.

“It doesn’t work like that,” I answered. “It’s sort of like a fellowship.”

Needless to say, my roommates still do not understand what I did this summer. To be honest, I am not so sure I understand what I did. Yes, I can talk about NYU, and the Bronfman Center for Jewish Life, and religious pluralism. I can talk about networking, and professional development, and nonprofit organizations. I can talk about Jay, and Gabriel, and my fellow CLIPterns.

But in describing my summer, I find that I cannot understand what would motivate 43 young, fun, and hip college-aged kids to spend their summers creating power-point presentations so that they could help the Jewish world work just a little bit better. At our last seminar Amanda came to the conclusion that we are, indeed, a cool bunch of kids. So I cannot entirely grasp the idea that each of us would say, “You know what. Forget surfing in Australia, or hiking in Asia, or salsa dancing in Latin America, or binge watching Netflix. Because I am going to split my summer between creating spreadsheets for complex Jewish bureaucracies and talking for hours on end about why my Jewish summer camp just didn’t do the job.” So I’d like to take a moment to recognize that while we may be cool, we are also just a little bit crazy.

And I’ve seen this craziness manifest itself throughout the summer. I can confidently say that for each and every fellow on this program, there has been at least one moment of genuinely passionate engagement. When we discussed Jewish education, the eyes of the campers and Hebrew school attendees in the cohort lit up, and they made their voices heard. When Israel was incorporated into our seminars, the social justice warriors and the IDF soldiers amongst us told us their stories, related their narratives, debated their issues of concern. When Jewish identity was the topic of conversation, those CLIPterns who have spent their lives oscillating between different ideologies, practices, communities, and denominations allowed for our entire group to create a space where we could open up to one another.

It was rare that all of the interns would feel compelled to insert their voices into the same conversation, but between our many different conversations, our many different personalities and Jewish paths shone through. We are all so very different from one another. Last week, when many of us prepared Jewish material to teach one another, the offerings ranged from Dina DeMalchuta Dina on the one hand, a technical Talmudic exegesis exploring rabbinic attitudes towards secular legal authority, and a discussion on the new Jewish dating app J-Swipe on the other hand. We are all so very different, and yet, all of us came together this summer to do this crazy Jewish communal thing. This thing we can’t ever seem to agree upon, but that we care so much about.

In this week’s Torah portion, Re’eh, we learn of the seasonal pilgrimages to Jerusalem. Three times a year – shalosh pa’amim bashana – all of the members of Israel would ascend to the holy place – the makom asher yivchar Hashem. On Pesach, Shavuot, and Sukkot, all would appear in Jerusalem – yera’eh kol zechurchah. But they would not appear empty handed. In fact, each and every one of them was required to bring a set of offerings. Lo yera’eh et penei Hashem reikam. They would not dare appear before God empty handed.

Each of us brought something unique to this summer experience. Nobody here arrived empty handed. We brought our stories and our practices, our strengths and our not-so-strengths. But most of all, we brought the crazy idea that we all share something in common and that we will fight about it and for it to no end.

“So you’re all helping Jewish companies not make money?” one of my roommates asked me. “You guys must be crazy.”

“Just a little,” I responded. “Just a little.”

Closing Ceremony Reflections – Lieba Swartz-Brownstein, CLIP: New York 2015

Brownstein, Lieba_-_Photo,_2015_1781_2015-05-27Hello everyone and good morning!

We live life walking down a path bordered by two types of doors. On our left is a barrage of closed doors, representing close-mindedness. These doors provide containment, safety, familiarity, but at an expense. They also keep us trapped in a world much too small for the expansive potential of the human experience. On our right is a series of open doors leading to a plethora of novel occasions, places, and relationships we would never have in our lives if not for the ability to step through the threshold of discomfort and into the bright light of opportunity.

Being open-minded is not complete acceptance but a desire for it. We may never be perfectly in unison with the world but we can always yearn for a greater understanding of those different than us, a knowledge and wisdom beyond our own lives and the lives of others.

Open-mindedness, though important in interactions with those from different backgrounds, is not solely applicable to race, gender, religion, or other subset. Open-mindedness can be boiled down to simply “openness”; willingness to greet a new day, eagerness to lean into challenges we are unsure if we will conquer.

So what is to be open? To people, to new circumstances, to our own quirks and individualities? It’s a broad term and hard to wrap one’s head around. Openness is frightening. It means being at the whim of a universe that is constantly changing and molding to fit the demands of a new generation. Openness is not passive, it is not just endurance or tolerance. To be open is to be an active participant and to constantly, consistently, embrace the unknown.

When I think of instances of openness in the past 10 weeks, I’m struck by how many times I have had to widen my idea of Judaism. My whole life, I have felt incredibly lucky to be raised in a family and an environment so willing to accept others but I have been living within only a sliver of possibilities. I have been exposed to so many lifestyles different than mine this summer and am so thankful for that. Openness on my part involved listening, passive, then asking every question I could think of, active. It took observance and acceptance along with curiosity and action.

On the CLIP Shabbaton I had the chance to get to know many people in a new light. On Shabbat I got to have a few deep, meaningful conversations with a number of people, one in particular which really stood out to me. I took a walk with a young girl who identifies heavily with the Reform community. Even though I grew up in a Jewish Renewal family and now Identify as Orthodox I had never had the opportunity to ask the league of questions which plagued my mind about her denomination. The same thing went for the girl, and we began rapid-firing question and answer. We went back and forth for hours asking each other one thing after another. Ranging from topics of G-d and Judaism to body image and sexuality. We were open. We were willing. We wanted so badly to share and to understand. Even though we are so different and believe such different things we both came in to the conversation with an open mindedness that worked out so well. Not all instances of openness, however, involve complete tolerance or a genuinely interested curiosity.

For the CLIP Shabbaton I had a chance to take a leadership position and join the ritual committee. The ritual committee was designed to coordinate the ritual aspect of the CLIP Shabbaton. We had to create a Friday night service that would work for a cohort that comes from a variety of backgrounds. We needed to listen to each other and be open and honest about what Shabbat meant for us. We needed to express what we needed to make Shabbat special and not be afraid of having different views than someone else.

The key for me was to maintain perspective. I understood the topic created rifts, indecision, and frustration. The transformation of understanding occurring within all of us in that moment had nothing to do with the literal logistics. The undercurrent of our conversation was a meeting of minds, and a collaboration of backgrounds. What looked like a butting of heads actually represented mixing of idea and culture. I found this moment of perspective amidst the exasperation of the group to be invigorating. It incited openness within me. In that moment, I wanted to absorb all viewpoints in the room, to understand everything happening around me and relish the controversy. After the meeting Jay asked me how I was feeling and I told him Inspired.

My time at CLIP was not always fun or easy. I can say, however, that it has been quite transformative. I have learned more this summer than the sum of years before. Between the presentations, my internship, and the most basic interactions, I have grown so much. It was new, and it was difficult. I had to put aside my own hang-ups and be open to character growth. I had to be unafraid to be different and unapologetic of my innate eagerness. “There are no stupid questions,” I was told, upon apologizing just for asking. “There are no stupid questions, only stupid people.” It was both insulting and eye-opening. What this meant to me was there is no reason to feel inadequate when I am doing all I can to learn more about the world.

Not only am I able to self-identify as more wholesome, I’m able to be identified in this community as more whole. By that I mean I am not simply the marker of my religion, I am the sum of my character. I am just a person, we are all just people. We no longer are understood as the titles of our denominations, but instead we are understood as individuals. You can only accomplish this type of nuance by being vulnerable, by practicing absolute openness with one another.

I have learned such a great deal from my time here. These 10 weeks have been full of unfamiliarity, knowledge, and self-discovery. In addition to the rewards of the program itself, there have been so many moments where I’ve had the privilege of getting to know such a unique, interesting group of people. I have truly seen so many benefits to this experience. I could build a house of lessons, a self-contained package of wisdom. The furniture is all of you, it is lectures, activities and volunteering. The foundation is hard work and authenticity, the walls are the structure, working 9-5, our 4-walled room with red chairs. Now that the summer is over, I am standing outside of this house. We can all take a look at what we have built. The funny part is, there is only one reason we can see inside and admire our work. Our window, our door to get inside, is openness. We have no passage to our ultimate goals without openness. I want to thank you all for creating a space safe and nurturing enough for me to be my whole, true self. It’s been an honor to grow with all of you. Thank you.

Good Chemistry – Ariel Marantz, CLIP: New York 2015

Marantz,_Ariel_-_Photo_2015_3186_2015-06-01Looking back on my summer planning, it’s almost funny to me how easily I could have missed out on the CLIP experience. The course equivalency papers were all signed and the application fee was paid; I was going to devote my summer to taking a chemistry course. The summer would be productive, enabling me to gauge my interest in pursuing a career in a scientific field while moving me closer to such a scenario.

Of course, I never took the course. A few weeks before the class would have begun, I received the acceptance email from CLIP that would change my life in so many ways.

To be honest, I didn’t know that much about CLIP when I applied. All I knew was that my friends who had participated in CLIP in the past had all raved about their experiences and urged me to apply. That certainly made CLIP seem more appealing than chemistry, so I cancelled my enrollment and signed up for CLIP with excited anticipation.

Although I really did not know what to expect, by the first day of orientation I knew that the CLIP experience would be phenomenal. Jay Herman, the head of the program, led the first ice breaker with humor and charisma, and I think all the CLIPterns felt they were in for a treat. Besides forming wonderful friendships almost instantly, we gained tremendous insight into our respective potential and strengths by taking StrengthsQuest quizzes and analyzing the results with the cohort. I learned so much about myself in those three orientation days, and I couldn’t wait to dive into the weekly seminars and start my internship.

Two months later, I sit compiling pictures together for the end of the summer slideshow. I feel privileged to make the video that will be shown at the CLIP final banquet, where our families, friends, and supervisors from our internships will join the cohort in celebrating the end of a wonderful summer.

It’s funny how fast the summer went by, and how many wonderful experiences I have gotten to relive by making the slideshow. I volunteered at a food shelter, enjoyed two CLIP shabbatons full of music, laughter, and thoughtful discussion, planned CLIP events as part of the “Monday Night Committee,” and gained valuable skills at my first internship. It occurs to me how easily such experiences might never have been had I not heeded the advice of my friends. I leave the summer much more aware of myself, appreciative of professionalism, and grateful for the Jewish communities throughout the world, and the incredible opportunities that await young leaders. I am especially thankful for 42 new, beautiful friends, and two unbelievable mentors.

Being a part of CLIP is a very special experience and I encourage anyone who is interested to apply. I want to wrap up my summer adventure by giving out some due acknowledgements: a huge thank you to Jay and Gabriel for allowing me to be a part of the cohort, and to everyone in the cohort for your passion, eloquence, and sincerity. I’m fortunate that we have forged so many wonderful memories already and I trust we will strengthen our cohort even further in the years to come. I would also like to thank my supervisor, Ms. Joanna Kibel, at the Jewish Child Care Association for her guidance, feedback, patience, and tremendous insight. I learned so much from each of you and I thank you all for making this experience so special and meaningful.

Have a lovely rest of the summer everybody!



Growing Up: One Step Closer to Defining Who I Want to Be – Jessica Thea, CLIP: New York 2015

Thea,_Jessica_-_Photo_2015_4724_2015-05-21Grappling with the question “who do you want to be when you grow up” is no easy feat. Yet it’s something we’ve all been asking ourselves for as long as we can remember. During our last seminar in an activity called “fishbowl”, one of my incredible fellow clipterns asked the crowd something along the lines of: how do we figure out what we want to do with our lives? I gave the eloquent answer of: trial and error. 

Although sometimes I wish there was an easy answer to all of these big life questions, CLIP has taught me the value in self exploration. I learned from my experience this summer that the best way to learn about yourself is by seizing  every opportunity, especially those that challenge and push you outside of your comfort zone. You have to try anything and everything, and embrace the growth that comes with all successes and failures. 

I started CLIP in June with the nagging feeling that I simply wouldn’t fit in. To say my Jewish identity was underdeveloped is an overstatement. I grew up celebrating the high holidays (with family rather than prayer), and that was pretty much the extent of my Jewish upbringing. When I told friends that I would be participating in a Jewish internship they all kind of laughed at me. I became nervous that I wouldn’t be “Jew-y” enough to bond with the types of kids that would participate in such an internship. Boy was I wrong. This summer I have made life friends. The people I have met are the strongest, most open college students that I think could ever exist out there. 

I was also nervous because this summer would mark my first “big girl” internship. Never before have I sat in an office space and worked directly under someone. I loved working in retail and as a hostess but those were such high paced jobs and I was surrounded by people all day. Would I have to sit silently in a cubicle making copies and fetching coffees? I was nervous that I would either be bored or I would be entrusted with responsibilities that I wasn’t equipped to handle. Shocker, I was wrong again. I worked with an incredible staff at PresenTense Group and learned crazy amounts. I was given a lot of responsibility but I lived up to the task (hopefully..)!

So moral of the story is that CLIP was a new and exciting opportunity for me. Throw in the fact that I moved to New York City and had to put up with the struggles off city life for the first time and you could say that I gained experiences all around. Never in my life have I learned so much about myself. CLIP gave me a rare opportunity to grow both professionally and personally. I learned about my identity as a Jew, as a college student, and as a young professional, and made best friends that not only put up with me but helped me along the way. I can’t say that I’ve pinpointed exactly what I want to do or who I want to be in the future but CLIP has certainly pushed me in the right direction. 

I need to say a special thanks to all of you that have helped make this summer one of the best of my life. Jay and Gabriel: thank you for making the program incredible. It wouldn’t have been as fun and important without you. My fellow clipterns: thanks for being you. I have never been surrounded by a group of such smart, open, trusting, and kind people. You have all made such a mark on my life and you will continue to do so (don’t lose touch!) PresenTense staff: thank you for showing me the type of person I want to be when I do become a real person. You all are amazing and I aspire to be like you in just a few years! I will forever be grateful. 

Greater Than The Sum – Emma Stein, CLIP: New York 2015

Stein,_Emma_–_Photo_2015_8968_2015-05-25After every seminar Jay would ask us who wanted to write a blog about that week. Every week I didn’t think I had enough to say about that seminar. There were many subjects and topics that interested me. But none enough to inspire a whole blog (a very intimidating word for someone who’s not a writer per sé). As my fellow Clipterns’ hands shot up I was nervous that I wasn’t getting enough out of my CLIP experience.

Now don’t get me wrong. These seminars got me thinking, I was making friends, I was challenging my preconceived thoughts and ideas. I was nuancing and all that stuff we talked about at orientation, but I felt that I couldn’t write about anything.

That is until now, because CLIP is so much greater than the sum of its parts. CLIP taught me so much than I could express from one individual seminar or shabbaton. Each week I learned about identity, community, or the Jewish community. I danced with seniors on the lower east side, I met a biracial Jew who shared her story about race, I listened to a CLIP alum who was so impacted by a seminar last summer about “single storying” she just HAD to come share it with us, I danced with campers at a pluralistic day camp, I did a lot of dancing… But collectively I learned so much more.

CLIP was not an event, it was an experience and experiences take time. This particular experience took the course of 10 weeks, 10 weeks I will not forget and would never trade. Even though they consisted of countless Excel spreadsheets and numerous hot sticky train rides to and from NYC when I much would have rathered to be sitting on the beach. My internship pushed me professionally. My peers pushed me psychologically, emotionally, and spiritually. I am a different, better person (I hope) than I was when I walked into orientation 10 weeks ago. So thank you to my fellow CLIPterns and thank you to Jay and Gabriel for a pretty awesome summer.


An Open Letter from a Formerly Closed Mind – Amanda Schechter, CLIP: New York 2015

Schechter,_Amanda_-_Photo_2015_7044_2015-05-25Dear readers,

Back in May, I had the option of choosing between 2 internships – a research position at a camp for troubled teenage boys, and CLIP. I wrestled with the pros and cons of both internships, and ultimately I chose CLIP, based solely on the fact that it paid more and that it was slightly more convenient to commute to everyday. I was, to be honest, not as thrilled as I wanted to be to have a summer job. But, money is money and a job is a job so I told everyone who asked that I was excited and that it “should be fun and interesting.”

Once I joined the CLIP Facebook group, I (like I think many people did) looked at everyone’s profile pictures. I remember specifically thinking to myself, nobody looks cool. I was preparing to just make it through the summer, gaining nothing but experience for my resume.

On the way into New York for the first day of orientation – I came in with Rachel Posner, and Andrew Solomon – Rachel had asked, “Do you think this is going to be fun?” And I replied, “No. Everyone looks weird.” And again, was planning on taking this one day at a time.

After the first day, I thought, okay, this isn’t terrible; the people aren’t too bad, the program seems bearable. After the first week – at CLIP as well as my placement, Footsteps, believe me when I say, I WAS WRONG. I WAS 100% WRONG. I have gained so much more than just experience for my resume. I wanted to share a list of what I have gained and learned this summer.

  • Acceptance. Though I pride myself in being an accepting person, my placement at Footsteps helped me further understand what it means to accept anyone for exactly who they are.
  • Empathy. Something I always thought I have had was the ability to be empathetic, but working at Footsteps and interacting with members has made me more aware of other people’s struggles and stories, and to be more understanding and compassionate towards others.
  • Identity. Before CLIP, I was just a Reform Jew who celebrated the holidays and kept Passover. I never thought about my Jewish identity, or that I even had one, and what it meant to me. After meeting everyone here, I have learned that however I choose to “be Jewish” is good enough, and that even if I don’t keep Shabbas, or know specific prayers, that it’s okay and it doesn’t make me “less Jewish.”
  • Leadership. CLIP has shown me that to be a leader, we must have certain qualities, qualities I didn’t think I had. To be able to volunteer and step up to do things, to be able to delegate roles, to be able to compromise. These are qualities I did not know I possessed, but throughout the summer, have come to realize that maybe I do possess these qualities and that maybe I can be a leader and not a follower.
  • To not just hear, but to listen. I think this speaks for itself.
  • And so much more.

The list is endless, but I felt these were some of the most important. I honestly am extremely saddened at the thought of not being around such wonderful people every day, and that this experience comes to an end in a mere 48 hours. Everyone here has personally touched me in a way that I would never be able to describe in words.

I came into this internship with a pretty closed mind. I was so wrong in my original opinions about CLIP and the people I would be spending my summer with. I have learned an infinite amount in such a short period of time, but if there is one thing I take away from this entire experience, it is this: Never judge a person by their Facebook cover photo.

I may be indecisive, and I do make wrong decisions, but choosing CLIP is one of the best decisions I have ever made. I have gained invaluable skills, mindsets, and friends. I will cherish everyone here for eternity, and I am so thankful for this program. Thank you, Jay and Gabriel, for making this a summer to remember. I will be forever grateful.

With love and gratitude,

Amanda Schechter


Summer Reflection – Robert Adler, CLIP: New York 2015

Adler,Robert-Photo2015_2425_2015-05-26Over the past couple of months, I have had the privilege of participating in the Collegiate Leadership Internship Program (CLIP).  I first heard about this program through my older brother.  When I asked him to describe the advantages and benefits of partaking in CLIP, he merely responded: “It was great; just do it.”  To be quite honest, I was not entirely sure if I even wanted to join CLIP.  I thought that CLIP was not a great option if I wanted to strengthen my resume (crazy, right?). Now I usually do not follow people’s guidance blindly, but for some reason, I decided to take my brother’s advice.  I am pleased to report that I was pleasantly surprised.  This program has taught me valuable life lessons. The most significant message CLIP has shown me is that when one is presented with an opportunity, it is extremely important to think, and then re-think it over before deciding on what path to take. Never underestimate any opportunity.  Even if it is seemingly non-advantageous, it may very well be the best or most favorable option.  Not only did CLIP teach me a valuable lessons, but it also taught me more about professionalism, perspective, and of course, Judaism.

This summer, CLIP placed me at Hadassah, a women’s Zionist organization. I was an intern for the Membership and Unit Services division.  I helped the division out with various tasks, from sitting in the freezing mailroom stuffing papers into envelopes, to working on very important and complicated excel work.  These women have taught me how to be the perfect professional; how to take one’s work seriously while being as approachable as possible.  They have allowed me to meet with almost every important figure in the organization, and encouraged me to ask questions. In the short ten weeks I have been at Hadassah, these men and women have helped me grow.  I am so grateful for the opportunity at Hadassah, something I fortunately did not overlook.

CLIP bands together a group of Jewish college students and allows a safe, friendly environment where one can express himself or herself.  I have had the pleasure in meeting forty-two amazing Jewish students that I can proudly call friends.  We have connected so much in such little time.  We have learned about each other’s backgrounds, interests and things that “make them tick” (double entendre).  What I find so interesting is that I have learned at least one thing from each person in this program; whether it is about the seemingly exotic, edible lemon flowers you can find on the ground, to discussing Aristotelian ideology.  We are such a close-knit bunch, and I would not have it any other way.  I hope to continue to strengthen the bond that I already have with these outstanding individuals.

Finally, I learned about “my people”.  I have always considered myself a proud Jew, but felt that I did not understand the many different types of Jewry that exists.  Thanks to CLIP, I can say that I have caught a glimpse of what that really means.  We learned about Jews all over the globe.  A few of our “Clipterns” made presentations on European Jewry.  Gabriel made a wonderful PowerPoint on Jews in America (which I have further researched and attached some other articles from Pew Research that I found engaging).  We have not only learned about the different types of Jews, but have told our own story.  We have laughed, argued and examined our own Judaism and where we see ourselves in the bigger picture.  That sort of reflection is very important to me, as I try to figure out where I play a role.

As the summer comes to a close, I realize that Jay had been right.  He told us at orientation that we were about to go through a transition this summer, where we do not only learn about the professional world, but we will learn a lot about ourselves.  As you know, I am about to embark on a journey to Shanghai, China.  CLIP has helped me create a better picture of who I want to be and how I want to make a difference in this world.  This experience has helped me discover some of the obstacles I will face in the future and how to map out a route to success.  I am so appreciative of Jay and Gabriel (do not forget Esther Ann!).  I can gladly affirm that CLIP has been a highlight in my life.  I simply could not ask for a better summer.

*Links to the Pew articles:




Floodgates Opened – Sophie Frank, CLIP: New York 2015

Frank,_Sophie_–_Photo,_2015_7158_2015-05-23The day commenced with an introduction to Wednesday’s area of focus and a bit of a disclaimer. Jay brought forth the concept of “flooding,” or the emotion of overwhelmed intake we would potentially feel when engaging in discussion surrounding Jews in Israel and abroad. This disclaimer was presented in such a way that we were absolutely encouraged to fully embrace the sensory and mental overload and sit with the discomfort that this could cause. And this sitting with discomfort is what allowed the entire cohort to embrace beneath and among differences.

Sharing every Wednesday, many Monday nights, and one full weekend with my CLIP cohort has not been enough to identify the extent to which so many of my peers are truly heroes. Engaging in learning about Jews in Israel and Europe with a group of so many insightful and passionate individuals was extremely moving. Narratives were shared about acts of heroism ranging from experience in the IDF to taking the brave steps towards speaking up when serving as the only Jewish voice in the room.

In a past year this seminar was entitled: “Enough Standing, Time to Sit With Israel.” This title stood out to me in particular because it identifies the major deterrent from tackling conflicts in the Middle East head-on: The exhaustion of taking a stand when there are also such powerful stances in opposition to you. Like on Passover, when we remember the struggle, but sit in a reclined fashion to also recognize the ability to find comfort. By sitting with Israel, we were able to express gratitude and scorn, pride and displeasure.

We were each prompted to share what unique perspective we had that would propel the day’s discussion and activities and the answers that were provided gave me chills: sharing a summer with struggling Palestinians, facing police interrogation in order to go to Shabbat services, or growing up with Israeli grandparents and parents, to share a few. It was so meaningful to have such valuable and experienced perspectives present when addressing topics that can be so difficult to shed truthful light on.

Wednesday was also a time to take a stance I did not actually identify with. Along with five of my peers, I took part in a public forum style debate on the necessity for Jewish organizations aimed at the college demographic to devote funding to fighting the BDS movement. Debating both the affirmative and negative on this topic allowed us to expand our viewpoints immensely and engage in intelligent discussion, separated from emotional distraction.

This opportunity to learn and engage throughout our Wednesday seminar as scholars, students, travelers, citizens, and defenders of Judaism globally allowed us to each flourish our individual thought and ability to understand others through their worldly histories.