About 140 Jewish teens will arrive in Pittsburgh this week for a multiple-state convention that includes volunteer work and education on special needs.
Hailing from Ohio and its surrounding states, the youths of the Central Region of United Synagogue Youth will gather at the Beth Shalom synagogue in Squirrel Hill.
Beth Shalom Youth Director Carolyn Gerecht says the teens will volunteer with Ronald McDonald House, several food pantries, and Thriftique, a Swissvale thrift store run by the National Council of Jewish Women.
Gerecht says the theme of the convention’s workshops will be “viewing special needs through a Jewish lens.”
“For example, they’ll talk about what it’s like to do some of the different prayers or different rituals that are associated with holidays … what it’s like to experience that if you have a physical or mental disability.”
Gerecht says the teens will also experience the “excited” Pittsburgh Jewish community by staying overnight with Beth Shalom families.
“Not all of these kids are coming from a community like that. Some of them are the only Jew in their high school, and I think it will be exciting for them to see what this kind of community looks like.”
Because United Synagogue Youth is celebrating its 60th anniversary this year, Beth Shalom is also seeking past USY members to speak with the group about what the organization has done over time.