Area teen elected national leader of Young Judaea
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Area teen elected national leader of Young Judaea

Tenafly high school student Molly Stein said she has always liked “leading things.”

As mazkira (president)”“elect of Young Judaea, Hadassah’s peer-led Zionist youth movement, the 17-year-old will have ample opportunity to exercise her leadership skills.

A graduate of the Solomon Schechter Day School of Bergen County in New Milford and a member of Englewood’s Kol HaNeshamah, where she leads children’s services, Molly has been active in Young Judaea’s Bergen County group since 2007.

As president of the national organization, her job will be to maintain a close relationship with Hadassah, the group’s parent association, as well as with alumni.

“My job will be to make sure Young Judaea’s voice is heard in Hadassah,” she said, noting that she has attended the movement’s camps for six years. She went to Camp Sprout Lake from 2004 to 2006 and to Tel Yehuda from 2007 to 2009.

“I became active in the year-round movement when I entered high school,” she said, detailing her involvement in twice-monthly activities ranging from “bowling nights raising money for Israel to making dolls for Darfuri refugee children.” The group also participated in a recycling program to collect funds for Haiti.

Currently the Bergen County group’s point person for communications, Molly said the local chapter “is in the middle” nationally in terms of its size and level of activity.

She is hopeful that will change.

“I plan on trying to work with [all the regional groups] so their clubs can grow,” she said.

“I would like to strengthen, to unify, the year-round movement. Different places have different ways of working,” she noted. “My job will be to oversee the different regions and make sure their practices and programs can run.” Her job, she said, is to try to ensure that all the groups can do their jobs with help from the national office.

Ultimately, she wants to create “more activism in terms of Israel and other issues.”

While Young Judaea occupies a good deal of her time, Molly has found time for other pursuits as well. Just before Pesach, she was scheduled to play Mrs. Harcourt in her school’s production of “Anything Goes.”

“I’ve been in the school musical every year,” she said. “I like theater.”

The new YJ president believes strongly in the organization she will lead.

“Young Judaea is important not just because it gives Jewish teens something to do but because it teaches them how to do it. You learn how to take action on issues you care about and how to be a leader, working towards goals as well as meeting other Jewish teens.”

Molly said that while attending Solomon Schechter was important to her personally, “you don’t need to be a day-school student” to participate in Young Judaea.

The youth movement, she said, “has helped make me into a better and different kind of leader. It’s made me more aware.”

And if there’s one thing that people should know about the group, it’s that “Young Judaea is alive and well, moving into its second century with just as much passion and excitement as there was in the first.”

“I’m excited,” she said. “I feel good about the upcoming year.”

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