Turn, Turn, Turn

by Rabbi Elyse Winick - Director, KOACH/College Outreach Posted on June 9, 2013
Rabbi Elyse Winick

To everything there is a season. The Byrds did a remarkable job of popularizing this text from the book of Kohelet (Ecclesiastes), which we read each year as part of the rituals of Sukkot.

Students are keenly aware of the shift of seasons, perhaps second only to landscapers and meteorologists. Summer camp staff as well, and for those of them (of you!) who are students, the effect is doubled.

KOACH now finds itself in a moment to which only The Byrds could do justice, as we close our doors after twenty three extraordinary years.

Those of you who have followed the goings on of the past three years know that beginning 2013-14, KOACH’s future was to be entirely dependent on philanthropic support. To our great dismay, while there has been sufficient response to continue on a very small scale (more about that below), KOACH as we have known and loved it must now come to an end.

Tens of thousands of students and dozens of professionals have been part of this sacred endeavor. All of our lives have been transformed and elevated by the experiences we have shared. We are better people for it. We are better Jews. We have much to be grateful for.

In the long term, USCJ is committed to the pursuit of proper funding to serve college students with the richness and vibrance you deserve. In the short term, a small cohort of interns will serve six campuses, in partnership with Hillel: The Foundation for Jewish Campus Life, and our life-changing Taglit-Birthright Israel program for participants with Asperger’s Syndrome will continue as well.

Don’t think for a moment, though, that this roadblock is insurmountable. Your commitment to an exciting and diverse Jewish community on campus and beyond cannot be stopped by the changes in an international organization. The more you seek, the more you call upon your communities to provide you with Jewish learning that meets your standards for content and quality, to provide you with safe harbors for Shabbatot which fill you with contentment and envelope you in God’s presence, the more you own your Jewish future, the more these things will happen for you. Students carry extraordinary power; you just don’t always know it.

Et hamanginah hazot, ee efshar l’hafsik – mukhrakhim l’hamshikh l’nagein, mipnei she-et hamanginah hazot, ee efshar l’hafsik.
(Yair Rosenblum)

We cannot stop playing this melody – we are compelled to continue to play, because this melody can never cease.

It’s been an extraordinary privilege to be part of this sacred work for so long. I’m grateful to all of you and I’m certain that our paths will cross again.

May we go from strength to strength.

Tamuz 5773

Denominational Judaism