A CSJO Road Trip

By Jordi Shuster, Sarah Waslow-Washington, Adam Beardsley, and Madi Burns

The minivan pulled up… and the journey began.

The 2016 CSJO board meeting took place in Michigan, so the Pennsylvania youth contingency decide to take a little road trip. We laughed, we cried, we napped, we snacked, we listened to throwback jams. Three of us – Adam Beardsley, Jordi Shuster, and Sarah Waslow-Washington (our fearless driver) – left just after 6am on Friday morning, and we picked up Madi Burns once we reached Pittsburgh.

We spent the drive doing two things: planning for the upcoming board meeting and reconnecting with old friends. The former involved creating a game plan for what we wanted to achieve at this year’s board meeting, discussing what we as the youth might bring to the discussion. As for the latter…

We decided that Rifke Feinstein will officiate all of our weddings, except Adam, who decided he wants Rob Kurtz to officiate (with Rob’s cat Sammy wearing a tux as the ring bearer, of course). We talked about our shared backgrounds, each having been raised in interfaith homes with Jewish mothers and non-Jewish fathers. Although we each have unique stories, many of our similarities are what allow us to feel so connected and welcome with each other and with CSJO as a whole.

One productive board meeting, one dinner featuring flaming cheese, one outing to see Trolls, and one encouraging event with the board of the Society of Humanistic Jews (SHJ) later, we got back in the car to debrief about the weekend and the positive changes we hope to implement internationally while we drove home. We interviewed each other about what development we’re most optimistic about:

Sarah is excited to start sending our young adult board members and other invested youth to visit the youth of CSJO’s various affiliates, in order to make excitement and spread excitement about the conferences and CSJO as an organization.

Adam, as our new content manager, is looking forward to the development of our revitalized social media presence, from the CSJO website and Facebook page to an Instagram account that can be used to promote CSJO and secular Jewishness in a creative way that we’ve never successfully explored before.

Jordi is incredibly eager to begin the restoration of the CSJO Social Action Committee, which will use CSJO’s presence as a platform to call for social change, including stressing the importance of certain issues and their relation to the Jewish experience, as well as organizing service projects for and with affiliates so that we can give back as an organization.

Madi is excited to begin regularly incorporating a community service component into CSJO conferences, beginning in 2018, in order to tie the strong belief that secular Jews have of tikkun olam (repairing the world) into our annual meeting.

And most of all, we’re all excited for the 2017 CSJO conference in Chicago from June 9 to June 11 – we hope to see you all there!