By Angie Jacobs
It was the 1970s in Leeds. Youth movements and flares were all the rage.
I hung out at Habo then boogied at BBYO. Then came the Eighties, I laughed the whole way through the Leeds and Yorkshire Israel Tour and in the sixthform had fun at FZY. Then came my year off in Israel – Machon, Kibbutz, Moshav and Ashkelon – marvellous, kef, magnificent and amazing.
My student years? You guessed it – Birmingham Hillel House and J-Soc (and happy hour cocktails and curries.)
Nearly 30 years on and my kids are having similar experiences – with better hairstyles. Last year, I took my daughter to a pre-Tour Israel fair to help her choose which movement would lead her through this rite of passage experience. By the end of the evening, she had narrowed it down to three – Habonim, FZY and BBYO. She went with Noam.
In the summer, my son had the time of his life at RSY-Netzer camp and this year graces BBYO with his oh-so-cool presence.
So what, apart from alliteration, has this provincial youth movement floozy and her equally flighty offspring learnt from her experiences?
My children will berate me for saying this, but basically ‘it’s all good in da hood’. It’s about getting involved and being part of something special. It’s about Judaism and Israel and continuity. There’s things you have to do in life: honour your parents, embarrass your children and, as Mr Bon Jovi says, you gotta keep the faith.
My daughter, more intellectual and sophisticated than her mother (although so is a banana), debated and reflected about the State of Israel on her Tour. (She also pulled, which is more than I managed to do.) Alas, the romance with the lad is over, but not so with Israel and she is thinking of taking a year off before she goes to university.
She has completed a leadership course with Noam, getting herself out of bed on a Sunday morning ready for a 9.30am start. Respect. This summer she will be a madricha at Noam’s summer camp for younger kids and it’s nothing to do with her being bossy – apparently.
Recently, I visited an old friend in Leeds and left my 13-year-old son in a room with her 12-year-old daughter. (No, this is not going where you think it is.) They did not engage, but fiddled maniacally with their phones as if they were running the world’s stock exchanges. Ten minutes later, my friend had had enough of this 21st Century fiasco and came back into the kitchen with both of their appendages.
From then on we heard chatting and giggling (the giggling was probably at our expense, but hey). This is what happens when you send your kids to a Jewish youth movement. Conscious uncoupling of child from mobile phone helps them to engage with the real world and have a jolly good time while they’re at it.
Sitting around a camp fire with your arms around the shoulders of the person next to you singing You’ve Got A Friend is far more fun than taking pouty photos of yourself with your phone. Live your life rather than film it. #tenner4tour is not about incontinence pads. It’s about giving something back to our kinderlach to make sure the fun continues.
By donating £10 to the UJIA bursary fund, you can help a 16-year-old who otherwise couldn’t afford to make their own memories. Just text TOUR to 70004 or visit www.ujia.org/tenner4tour. Look out for the Facebook and Twitter campaigns and post your photos of your happy memories on Tour or big-haired youth movement days. Embarrass your friends.
The best bits of Tour are ageless. Sunset at Massada, Friday night at the Kotel and the ever so slightly boring trip to the Knesset. Waterbombs off hotel balconies, mooning on a hill next to the moon and salt in places you didn’t know you had in the Dead Sea. Donate a tenner and let our children go. With the help of UJIA, we can teach our children and teach them well (Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young).