It’s so amazing how much can change in a year. We recently held our 2nd annual YALA Open House and it was a big success, but only a year ago I sat in the audience looking around the room wondering, “What is YALA all about?” I had no idea that I would meet people who I now consider my closest friends, or that I would be asked to join the YALA (Young Adults of Los Angeles) board in a role that is based on new member outreach.

So after a year in the trenches, this is what I’ve found YALA to be about and why it’s been so meaningful to me. As a person that grew up at overnight camp, I've always known that the friends you make there are the kind that last a lifetime. In my adult years, I've been wanting to connect with people who are similar in that respect. I attended TribeFest last year and did the Israel summer mission with YALA last summer and found exactly that – people who are fun, down-to-earth, philanthropic and just good-hearted. Walking into a room with YALA people was like being at home, and I'd love to help other people find their "home" within YALA so they too can feel that way. As a part of YALA I have so many options to be involved in the Jewish community, and helping to educate people as to where they can find their "home" within YALA as well, is a big goal for me.

I must have spoken to 50 people at this year’s Open House. There was plenty of discussion on all the ways people can get involved with YALA, as well as clusters, committees, dating (yes, people asked me if there were a lot of singles in the group), Federation and more. The new member brunch was also a popular topic. The idea of a “pledge class” was appealing to many people – I heard many times, “I want to go to events, but I’m worried I won't know anyone.” Creating this smaller community within the YALA community will give people an opportunity to feel welcome in any environment, and help to create an even stronger foundation for the future of YALA – something that I'm extremely excited and invested in!

YALA’s first year was filled with social, professional, philanthropic and community service opportunities for young adults in their 20s and 30s who are committed to building a stronger Jewish community in Los Angeles, Israel and around the world. After hearing the positive feedback from the YALA board, as well as the Open House attendees, I know we’re going to have another fun, successful year.

If you have any questions about YALA, feel free to e-mail me at yalanewmembers@gmail.com. I look forward to meeting you!

To learn more about YALA, check out our website www.yala.org and get in on the conversation with us on Facebook and Twitter.

Tags: Federation Events, Young Adults

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