Today is May 23, 2019 -

Bilu USY: The Misunderstood Middle Child of Jewish Youth Groups

by Amy Dworin,
Director, Youth Engagement

August 12 is National Middle Child Day, but you probably forgot about it. Middle children are thought of as neglected, confused and attention-starved (Jan Brady, for example), and on television they are always the funny-looking one (think Stephanie Tanner or Cory Matthews). It could be argued that history’s first murder victim is also history’s first middle child. Abel, the second son of Adam and Eve, was younger brother to Cain and older brother to Seth. We all know how things worked out for him. As a middle child myself, I am compelled to point out that middle children are also thought of as independent, creative and diplomatic. Warren Buffett, the second-coolest middle child living in Omaha, Bill Gates and the majority of United States presidents all happen to be middle children.

Now, I can assure you that this is not the self-indulgent rant of an under-appreciated middle child. Yet, in thinking about things that are overlooked and need to be loved for their own special qualities, I can’t help but think about the misunderstood middle child of Jewish Youth Groups, Bilu USY. When I met Bilu 2 ó years ago, eight of the fourteen active members were freshman. It is crazy to think that those freshmen are now entering their senior year of high school! They have grown into amazing leaders and kind hearted young adults. Together, they have redecorated the youth lounge, helped organize Beth El’s presence at the March For Our Lives, worked at Kamp Kef, hosted the best USY convention of the year, orchestrated a Broadway production during Shabbat services, traveled to Israel, started a fan club for a mildly famous Jewish musician (ask me about getting your very own Noah Aronson t-shirt!) and so much more. More importantly, they have led by example and formed relationships with younger students to make sure that the strong chapter they helped create continues to grow and thrive. They’ve had quite a run and I can’t wait to see what they do next!

And to all the middle children out there, don’t let the world get you down. Bilu has changed USY just by embracing who they are – wacky, misunderstood and happy. If Bill Gates and Bilu USY can rise above it, then so can you!