“Hey Henry, What’s up?”
“uhhhh not much, what’s up with you?”
“Henry I have some good news, you’ve been selected to be one of the Junior Counselors for Cohort 5, are you interested?”
I was speechless and struggled to form a simple “yes”
And just like that, I was a JC.
The 11 months that followed the phone call have truly been unforgetable. From the awkward introductions at the first workshop, to meeting our Israeli Family at NAS, to these past four days we spent together and everything in between; I loved every minute of it. No I really loved every minute of it, the cooking, the cleaning, waking up early, and even being the last one up at night; if I was doing it for one of my fellows, whatever it was, I loved doing it.
I have never been able to properly explain to anyone why I loved being a JC so much and I think I’ve finally figured out how. The first person who knew of my plans to apply for JC was my own JC, Felicia Tissenbaum. We were walking into the Rayman’s center during community week last summer when I told her. Her eyes lit up as she screamed “Hen!!! That’s great!!!!!!” and then told me how and specifically why she was excited for me. She was genuinely excited that I would get the opportunity, she was happy for me.
I didn’t realize this at the time, but throughout the year Felicia enabled, encouraged, and watched me grow, push myself, and learn about myself through the experiences Diller, and the JCs in part, provide for all of the fellows. It is through this process that the JCs develop an indescribably close, loving, and trusting relationship with each and every one of their fellows. Eventually, the JCs reach a point when they feel pure exuberance at the prospect of one of their fellows having an opportunity to grow and learn and be happy.
That is exactly why I love being a JC; the thrill of empowering my fellows and watching them grow as both Jews and leaders while learning about themselves along the way. After all that, I feel indescribable joy and a tremendous sense of accomplishment and pride when I become witness to one of the fellows going to places they wouldn’t have gone without their time in Diller. It is the thrill of taking a group of teenagers unfamiliar to each other and making a family of leaders.
Honestly if these are my last words to the Diller community at large, I just want to say thank you. Thank you to everyone at the JCC, Federation, and at the Diller international office for making this life-changing program a possibility. Thank you to Chris, Nir, Ziv, Shay, Meital, Jared, and the rest of the staff that I worked with. Thank you to all of my friends/family from Cohort 4 for making the first leg of my Diller journey amazing. Thank you to Felicia and Orly for being the best JC’s a JC could ask for (and for helping me so much this year).
Lastly, I want to thank my fellows. You guys have changed me and taught me more than you will ever know. You guys taught me never to settle and pushed me to be the best me I could be. You all never cease to amaze me. Thank you for everything.
Its been Real,
Henry “cake” Cohen
Junior Counselor 2013-2014