NYC Beyond Movement

What would you think if you woke up in New York on a Sunday morning and saw a bunch of young teenagers, kids, that are carrying someone on an antique (2nd WW) stretcher? Well, it happened this past Sunday. why? Was that person sick, wounded or something wrong with them? The answer is no. Now let me explain what was going on.

Two Israeli guys, one of whom came to New York just before COVID-19 started, and the other was already here studying at NYU. They met by accident in New York on the Hudson River drinking coffee.

Together the two of them embarked on a journey full of Israeli bravado to recruit teenagers from the most established stratum in New York. In the summer they went door-to-door at the estates in the Hamptons, to convince the Jewish parents to entrust their beloved kids to them.

Jewish kids from the upper east side of Manhattan need more stimulants in order to come closer to their Jewish heritage, they need something that will run their adrenalin and will make them come to any type of activity.

It took some time, and a lot of proactive actions taken by the two amazing young men, who started forming this group of Jewish young people, and then it came to fruition and is acting like it is now.

During Covid times they formed a headquarter at the center where they meet, they gave private lessons over Zoom, they supplied food to people in need.

During Operation Keeper of the Walls (Shomer Hachomot) to secure all the kibbutzim, moshavim, and cities around the Gaza strip, which were constantly attacked by missiles, the group gathered together and brainstormed what can they do to help, and they came up with the idea of collecting money and buying toys for the kids in the shelters in all the locations around the Gaza strip. And the best part of the story is that when those kids go to Israel for a visit now, they are not interested in Tel Aviv and the bright lights anymore but in all those places around the Gaza Strip.

The two initiators wanted those kids to meet people outside their rich and enabling life, they took them to Cincinnati to renovate houses of people from a weaker section of the black community, with the connection and the help of an Israeli-owned real estate company.

The best part of it was when you see a bunch of teenagers like that from the upper east side of New York mixing cement together with released prisoners from the most difficult section of the population.

“And while we are volunteering there, a shootout takes place right next to us at the nearby Wendy’s branch. It was amazing to see how the prisoners take our campers to the side and give them life messages: ‘If you don’t have enough money to buy diapers, don’t rob the store.'” I don’t understand what he’s talking about at all. What do you mean there’s not enough money? It’s the magic created by the meeting that goes beyond the activity. It’s the origin of our name.” Me’Ever…. (taken from an article in Ynet). 

Three years after they started, the two are sitting in the well-equipped playroom of the Safra community center in the heart of the Upper East Side and are passing on a leadership program to a group of teenagers, who in turn will themselves pass on the content to about 200 other young people from the neighborhood. And hopefully later from other communities all over the USA.

All this is being achieved with a lot of humility and simple actions of the two guys who are the subject of worship by those kids who participate in the program. The reason for that is that both of them stay humble, and not try to be a fake rich person with expensive cloths and brand names, they stay true to themselves and do not try to become one of the crowds by force but by actions.

“There is a big difference between the activities here compared to Israel. For example, baking cookies like we did today. It’s not like in Israel, where everything is one big mess. Here every child enters the room, has a name tag, a place to sit, the groceries are waiting for him, everything is organized. There is a lot of To learn from this professionalism, but it also makes me appreciate the Jewish genome and why it is so successful. The ability to jump forward is what makes us successful. The State of Israel is bursting with social action and not only because we are good people and volunteers. A lot of this is simply part of the mentality of the start-up world Ap – the ability to solve problems in a creative way several steps before getting there. The ‘Me’Ever’ movement is a startup for everything.” (Ynet 11-21-22)

The youth around the upper east end of Manhattan has everything, and naturally, a person who has everything is always looking for the next thrill. America has not much to offer in terms of thrills, what it has to offer is the new trend in Tiktok or even worse, alcohol and drugs.

A boy who is born in Manhattan to these amounts of money is used to having everything done for him. Many times, this specific young man or woman does not know to whom to attribute his achievements to himself or the people surrounding him/her. There is a lot more cynicism in the USA in general and in NY upper east side in particular than in Israel, and that is natural. We are talking about a population that is at the center of the global influencers and at the same time the most challenging population. But if we will manage to take the so-called most spoiled youth, and bring out the leadership from within them, there will be a message here that can later be conveyed to other Jewish communities.

This is where the project of the Stretcher Journey came in, the stretcher they found in a WW2 surplus shop, antiques, they could not find a battlefield stretcher anywhere, and now look at the Symbolism, Jewish kids from the upper class in Manhattan who some might be grandsons or great-granddaughters of Holocaust survivors who immigrated to the USA, are now reaching back to their roots, and becoming future leaders while holding a stretcher from the same war those people survived. That is what I would call the best revenge.

We are strong and stronger than ever when initiatives like this one is taking place in our countries, a cooperation between the “Ein Perat” Preparatory School, and the Safra Jewish Center in New York.

So, if you live in New York and you wake up one morning and see a group of young people carrying a stretcher with one of their friends on it on 5th Avenue, well now you know what it is.

When you wish to know more about the Me’Ever movement and their broad activities the following link  will lead you to their page: https://moisesafracenter.org/meever-youth-movement/

To see a video of the stretcher journey check here:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JgXvLjSwIu8

I could not find it with English subtitles but I am sure everyone will get the picture.

Have a wonderful Thanksgiving and a wonderful start to the holiday season, Chanukkah is just around the corner. Dreidels and Ponchikes time.