Where are they Now – Part One of Three
Summers at Camp Yavneh are filled with ruach, community, Jewish life and fun. It is also a place where campers meet lifelong friends, embark on new adventures and explore their Jewish identity.
Over the next few weeks, we will be highlighting three Yavneh alum – Jeremy Tibbets, Shai Weener and Talia Schwartz – and learn how their Yavneh experience helped cultivate their connection to Jewish life and encouraged them to become Jewish communal professionals. All three of these Yavneh alum spent many years at camp, both as campers and staff, and just recently graduated from college. This week, we are excited to hear from Jeremy Tibbets.
Jeremy Tibbetts is currently an employee of the Orthodox Union, where he is the Campus Coordinator for the new Yavneh on Campus program. Newly launched in partnership with Mizrachi Olami this past May, Yavneh on Campus is a student leadership program meant to create opportunities for Jewish students to deepen their Jewish identity and develop as current and future leaders. In the few months since its launch hundreds of students have already signed up for learning opportunities, to host Shabbat meals, and have applied to be involved in Yavneh On Campus’ fellowship program. Jeremy just finished at University of Massachusetts, Amherst with a degree in Public Health and a Philosophy minor, where he was involved in Hillel, interfaith organizing, student government, Sigma Phi Epsilon fraternity, and more. He loves reading (a little too much) and tries to learn a new niggun every day.
1) What Yavneh experiences will you carry forward into your current position?
Camp Yavneh is one of the major factors that led me to this job today, with two experiences standing out in particular. My Na’aleh summer in Israel in 2011 was incredibly impactful for me, where I for the first time really had the chance to see our people’s homeland. The trip fundamentally changed my understanding of what it was to be a Jew and I would never have done my gap year in Israel or become the person I am today without it. The other experience was being on tzevet (staff) for six years as Kerem One Seven’s madrich and rosh aydah. The majority of my job consists of mentoring Jewish college students and I learned just about everything I know about mentorship from my time as a madrich at camp. I mean, camp was the first place where I realized that working with Jewish youth was my life passion and mission.
2) What impact do you hope to have as a Jewish professional?
So many Jewish kids arrive to college and are forced to make hard choices they’ve never been confronted with–how do I maintain my Judaism in this new environment? Won’t it set me apart from everyone else? How can I be Jewish and have a college experience? I believe every Jewish college student is entitled to the amazing Jewish communal experience that I had at UMass and that camp always brings. I want to help Jews establish themselves as leaders today by strengthening their communities and identities, particularly on campus. Long term, I really believe that the kinds of environments at Jewish camp contain the secret sauce for what makes Judaism so enticing. How do you distill that and bring it to Jews and their communities across the spectrum? I guess figuring that out is the next part of my journey.