B’nai Amoona USY takes top chapter honor at international convention

From left are USY Regional President Noa Rose, advisor  Ken Goldberg, Regional Social Action Vice President Jessie Goldberg, current B’nai Amoona United Synagogue Youth President Jeffrey Eidelman and USY International general board member Adina Barg and BAUSY board members  Dana Rosenblum and Noah Englander.

By Eric Berger, Staff Writer

When Jeffrey Eidelman first attended a Congregation B’nai Amoona United Synagogue Youth event four years ago as freshman, he was worried that he would not make friends.

“I was very shy, not much into it, and now I can’t stop talking about it,” said Eidelman, 18, a senior at Parkway Central High School. 

He is now president of the youth group at B’nai Amoona, which was recently honored as chapter of the year by USY, the youth organization for the Conservative movement, at its international convention in Baltimore.

“When we won that award, me and the five other BAUSY members at the international convention were the happiest people in the room,” said Eidelman, who belongs to the synagogue on Mason Road in Creve Coeur.

The B’nai Amoona chapter is different from other synagogue groups, Eidelman suggested, in that it’s largely youth-led, with Eidelman and other teens generating programming ideas and organizing events with the guidance of the synagogue’s youth director, Andrew Schwebel. 

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For example, earlier this year, leaders of the group were talking about programming and realized that they did not know much Jewish Federation of St. Louis.

“If you asked me about Federation, I could tell you that there is a building with a Holocaust museum in it, and that’s it,” said Eidelman, of the Creve Coeur-based organization. 

With that gap in mind, the students organized programming in collaboration with the Jewish Federation. For example, on Jan. 22, students will hold a Shabbat dinner with seniors at Covenant Place, an affordable housing community for older adults that receives support from Jewish Federation.

Teen members vote on USY awards. B’nai Amoona had been selected as the region’s chapter of the year. 

USY regional youth director Ethan Helfand said that the B’nai Amoona student leaders do “an incredible job of involving everyone in their chapter in the programming process.”

The chapter has more than 50 members. 

“It’s a tremendous honor for our region, and of course, for B’nai Amoona,” said Helfand.

Rabbi Carnie Shalom Rose of B’nai Amoona said he has been struck by the commitment students have made to the youth group and the synagogue. Several months ago, youth leaders pushed to have a representative on the synagogue’s board of trustees, which the group now has. 

“It was an indication of their dedication to the furtherance and enhancement of our congregation and our community and the Jewish people, to say that they want to sit on the board of trustees,” said Rose. “That had not been the standard operating procedure. Most adult congregation do not have teens that sit on their board of trustees.”