“This is a photo from my senior year of high school at a USY program. I really loved being a part of United Synagogue Youth (USY) in high school as it gave me a strong and consistent Jewish community and identity. In fact, my senior year of high school I served as my synagogue’s Social Action chair. As one of the last programs of my time in USY, many of the synagogues’ youth groups got together to have a night with Israeli soldiers who were in town where we would do activities to get a feeling of what it was like to be in the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF). These activities included painting our faces in camouflage colors, doing obstacle courses and doing other “fun” things. It was programs such as these during my time in USY that presented Israel as a utopia, presented Israel as only the victim in regards to the conflict and created a sense of Jewish identity where love of Israel was central and unquestioned. There was no mention of Palestinians except when to label them generally as terrorists who inherently hated Jews, there was no mention of the military occupation that Israel enforces. During college, I went through a heartbreaking experience where I learned about the narrative and struggles of the Palestinian people. I learned about the horror of the occupation and I deeply realized how much I had been lied to by the Jewish community in my upbringing and deeply realized how much they didn’t tell me.“- Sarah Brammer-Shlay, USY

USYSophie Trauberman