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March 08, 1991 - Image 93

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1991-03-08

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Temple Beth El in Windsor,
says, "I think it's awesome
that a lot of different people
attend. We've got kids here
from France and Argentina.
I'm learning a lot about dif-
ferent cultures."
Bohemian in dress, with
long hair, a crude shave and
bandanna, MSTY treasurer
Brian Frank doesn't fit socie-
ty's mold for teen-agers who
spend weekends at temple.
Brian, a member of Temple
Shaarey Zedek in East Lans-
ing, sits atop a classroom
desk, bare knees exposed
beneath worn jeans.
"Hey wait a second," he
says to a circle of peers at
Winter Conclave's Saturday
morning activity. "It sounds
like we're thinking of a lot of
ways why it won't work. Let's
come up with some construc-
tive ways it might . ."
Leading a discussion of how
to end anti-Semitism in
France, Brian tries to gear
participants toward non-
violent solutions. "This is a
group of teen-agers who can
eventually change the world,"
he says. "I like being a leader.
I like being a part of that."
Indeed, many MSTY mem-
bers rank social action and
leadership high on their
priority lists. To them, prayer-
in-action means writing let-
ters to troops in the Persian
Gulf, rallying for abortion
rights, as well as helping the
homeless and AIDS-stricken.
MSTY social action board
member Rachel Lessem says
mitzvot are inherent in
Judaism. We are trying to
repair the world, step-by-step
. . . Not just for ourselves, but
for everybody."
Fundamentally, MSTY
hasn't changed much, says
Rob Nosanchuk, a former
member and now an adviser
to the Greater Lansing Tem-
ple Youth. The major compo-
nent is Ruach — spirit.
MSTY adviser Tom Norris
agrees. He says the teens'
"creativity, their excitement,
their dedication to Judaism"
makes all the meetings,
telephone calls and sleepless
conclaves worthwhile.

Plaster facemaking was a big hit at Emanu-El.

A dissonant Hamotzi
heralds mealtime on Satur-
day night. Disc jockeys pick
up with dance music in lieu of
the Birchat. A funky form of
Havdalah? No, this is Winter
Conclave's semi-formal dance
— the zenith of the MSTY
Spiffed up in taffeta and
lace, pinstripes and cuff links,
MSTY members shed the
reverence earlier displayed at
the candlelit service. "I'm
having a great time!" says
newcomer Josh Baru, looking
considerably more at ease.
But is there such a thing as
too much fun? Rabbi Lane
Steinger of Temple Emanu-El
expresses concern about
social activities overpowering
social action and religion.
"I wish I could get MSTY
people more involved in Mitz-
vah and Torah Corps," he
said. "I grew up in Missouri
Valley Temple Youth. I think
it was more serious then.
There were certainly social
aspects to it, but it was a dif-
ferent time."
Assistant Rabbi David
Feder says, "I'm encouraged
by the interest in, involve-
ment with, and commitment
to social issues, (however), I
would like to see a deeper ex-
ploration of the diversity of
Jewish knowledge and infor-
In fact, many MSTY mem-
bers agree. "Little parts of
this afternoon's program fell
through. I was really
frustrated," said MSTY
religious/cultural board

member Jeff Rosenberg. An
East Lansing High School
junior, Jeff feels the question
posed by the activity —
Should Jews be a light unto
the nations? — was treated
flippantly. He adds, however,
that responsibility for driving
home its significance rested
on his shoulders.
"I think it's up to me," he
says. "If I do a good job at set-
ting the mood, if I pay atten-
tion to every last detail of the
planning, they will take the
programs seriously and
they'll have fun, too."
President Andy Lax was
relieved when suggestions for
a second dance were shot
"I don't want MSTY to turn
into a real superficial, social,
gossipy atmosphere. I want to
incorporate more religion and
social action. I would like to
emphasize the importance of
carrying it over to lives out-
side MSTY," he says.
Michigan State student and
MSTY veteran Taron
Tachman ponders his life,
post-MSTY. He takes breaks
from studying to lead
songfests in East Lansing and
Grand Rapids, and returned
to Winter Conclave strumm-
ing a guitar.
"I'm giving back to MSTY
what it gave me," he says.
"My confidence was built up
through MSTY. It helped me
push my dreams further —
like song leading."
"No, but it's close," Taron
says. ❑

Above: Lisa Cohen, Sara Stillman and Camille
Shotwell share refreshments. Below: Taking a baggage
break are Betsy White of West Bloomfield and Dan
Nahum, an exchange student from Paris living in



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