When her mother dropped her off at Levittown, NY’s Israel Community Center Synagogue in mid-1980, Sharon Schoenfeld took the first steps of a Young Judaea (YJ) journey that would come to span more than three decades. After a typical YJ movement experience (clubs, Sprout Lake, Camp Tel Yehudah, local and National Mazkirut and Year Course) Sharon studied for her MA in education and returned to Young Judaea to serve as its National Education Director for three years before making Aliyah.
In Israel, Sharon worked for Young Judaea summer programs, as well as with the Jewish Agency and Hillel, before eventually returning to the organization once again in 1998 as Program Director and Assistant Director of Merkaz Hamagshimim- Young Judaea’s absorption and community center in Jerusalem. In this role, Sharon focused on strengthening the Center’s programmatic offerings to include an array of classes, seminars, social activism projects, and training for Olim Hadashim (New immigrants to Israel). Sharon took on the Executive Director role at Merkaz Hamagshimim in 2003.
During her final year in Israel, she coordinated the alumni program for the Mandel Foundation’s Jerusalem Fellowship. Upon moving back to the US, in 2007, Sharon returned once again to Young Judaea as the Director of Operations and played a central role in Young Judaea’s transition to an independent organization. In 2013, Sharon assumed the Director of US Programs role at YJG. In this role, Sharon focused on re-establishing and re-envisioning the youth movement, working tirelessly alongside teen leaders, alumni and parents to ensure that quality Young Judaea programming was available in communities across the US.
After a lifetime in the movement, and over 20 years working for Young Judaea in a professional capacity, Sharon made the bittersweet decision to leave her position this past spring. She is now the National Director of Kayitz Kef- Hebrew at Camp. An Areivim Philanthropic Group initiative, Kayitz Kef partners with Jewish summer camps to bring fun-filled transformative Hebrew language immersion into their programs, while creating a deep connection with the fabric of life and culture of the State of Israel. Sharon believes that this new role is the ultimate representation of her passion for summer camp and love for Hebrew language, both which she got from Young Judaea.