The youth groups from Shaarei Beth El in Oakville and Holy Blossom Temple in Toronto, attended the L‘Taken Seminar of the URJ Religious Action Center

Having just returned from a weekend at the L’Taken seminar of the Religious Action Centre for Reform Judaism, we wanted to share what an incredible experience it was. There were 400 teenagers there from across North America: California, Colorado, New York, Connecticut, Nashville, Florida, Illinois, New Mexico, etc.

Flying down from Toronto we arrived Friday midday and headed into the city and visited the Newseum to learn about the history of print media. By the early evening, we checked into the hotel to meet everyone and have Shabbat dinner and services. After dinner was our opening program about the goals of the weekend – to learn about important issues facing our Jewish community and how to advocate for what we believe in. Friday night we focused on poverty and economic justice. Saturday morning, after Shabbat services, we learned about gun control and violence - obviously an issue facing America more than Canada. Saturday afternoon we headed out to visit the Holocaust Museum, the MLK Memorial and free time in Georgetown. By sundown we gathered at the Jefferson Memorial for Havdallah. This was quite a moving moment seeing all these kids with candles singing Hebrew overlooking the nation’s capital.

Sunday, we focused on issues such as: the conflict in Israel, LBGT right, equality for those with disabilities, and more. Then we had free time on the Washington Mall, seeing the White House, the Lincoln Memorial and the Smithsonian Museums. The evening was spent in small groups using all our knowledge to write advocacy speeches.

Monday morning bright and early at 9 am, we visited the Canadian Embassy to explain our positions and demand action. Our students did an excellent job advocating for better access to government funds for those with disabilities, fighting against climate change and strengthening Canada’s ties to Israel.  Alistair Wallbaum, the Political Counsellor said afterwards, “It was our pleasure to meet with the students —they are an impressive group and it was great to hear their presentations”. We also got a private tour of our embassy, including the Hockey Hall of Fame exhibit. 

It’s been a fun, exciting, exhausting but meaningful weekend. When we return back home, we plan to set up meetings with our MP and MPP’s to repeat our messages of hope to make a more just and caring world.