Letter from the editor

Larry Levin

By Larry Levin

L’Shana Tova!

Welcome to the Simcha edition of OY! Magazine. We are thrilled to have you along for the ride.

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And when we say “ride,” we mean it literally, as our cover feature is a photo essay and article about the annual trip of the Cultural Leadership teens and the group’s founder and mentor Karen Kalish on a learning excursion across country.

You might ask, why does a trip about gaining insights of diverse cultures and backgrounds represent a simcha, or joyous event? After all, it’s not a bar mitzvah, or birthday party, or any of the other typical fare we display on our Simcha cover.

Well, the answer is easy, if not obvious: The trip, which allows community teens to develop appreciation and respect for others who might not be like themselves, is a simcha of the highest order.

Cultural Leadership, as stated on its web homepage (www.culturalleadership.com) “trains high-school students to be community organizers, social justice activists, and ‘troublemakers of the best kind.'” It does this by bringing together a select group of high school juniors and seniors from throughout the St. Louis area. Each year, the group travels cross-country during the summer to key civil rights and social justice landmarks and organizations. Through the trip, built upon the six months of local learning they do beforehand, the participants bond in ways that no classroom or less intensive experience can provide.

The program thus takes kids from varying perspectives and allows them to not only overcome differences but embrace them as essential parts of a complex and robust tapestry of American and world cultures. It turns what begin as an unknown journey – one filled with uncertainty, questions, perhaps even prejudgments and suspicions – into a celebration of human commonality and diversity. It creates trust, appreciation, bonding and ultimately, friendship.

And what could be more joyous than that?

We hope you enjoy our feature on Cultural Leadership and the other wonderful stories our editors have assembled for your reading pleasure. And have a sweet and joyous New Year of your own!

Larry Levin, Publisher/CEO