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The Power of One

By Emily Messinger

Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has. Margaret Mead

With the expansion of the Machon Summer Leadership Institute at URJ Eisner and Crane Lake Camps, participants (Machonikim) not only learn how to become summer camp counselors, but they are also challenged to bring their newfound leadership skills to life, at home, through the creation and implementation of their very own Pop-Up Event. Pop-Up Events provide Machonikim with new opportunities to bring their ideas to life, engage their peers, and strengthen their leadership skills. Pop-Up Events are local, interest-based programs planned and led by teen leaders, primarily from the Machon program at URJ Eisner and Crane Lake Camps. They are entry-level, low commitment, stand-alone events, each with a specific focus on Jewish values, outreach, engagement, and community building. Machonikim spent time during the summer planning their Pop-Up Events and we encouraged them to plan their Pop-Up Events in collaboration with their local Jewish community.

Sarah D (NYC) recently hosted her Shabbat Dinner Pop-Up Event and shared this:

I felt very proud after planning and hosting my Pop-Up Event. I hosted a Shabbat Dinner with three of my friends-one actively Jewish, one a Secular Jew, and the other a Christian. It was interesting to have three friends with different religious point of views all learning about how I celebrate Shabbat. We lit the candles, drank grape juice, and said the prayers over the wine and food. I told my friends all about camp Shabbat traditions like song session and Israeli Dancing. I showed them songs and videos from camp Shabbat and talked about why I loved Friday nights so much. It was a cool experience that was worth sharing with my friends. We all had lots of fun and I will do this again in the future!

Josh M. (NY) shared his appreciation for the opportunity to plan his Pop-Up Event. Josh planned a low-key comedy night at his house.

I would not have done this if it wasn’t for Machon. I feel accomplished. Since my Pop-Up Event, my friends have joined our local Temple youth group – they have never gone to anything before.

Lexa K. (Brooklyn, NY) thought it was going to be “cumbersome and annoying” to plan her Pop-Up Event. Lexa re-created a camp-style Shabbat dinner for her friends and family and, instead, found it to be “fun, easy, and meaningful.” For Lexa, the highlight of her experience was sharing Shabbat with her 14-year-old sister who did not become a Bat Mitzvah. She was overjoyed when her sister asked if they could do this every week.

Estavan A. (Long Island, NY) decided to turn his family Yom Kippur Break Fast experience into his Pop-Up event. He and his mom invited friends and family, who do not consistently engage in Jewish life, to join them for Break Fast and a reflective discussion on the role that Judaism plays in their lives. While Estavan was most impacted by the opportunity to reflect upon and share his personal connection to Judaism with his friends and family, he acknowledged that it was hard for others to share why they feel less connected. Recognizing that the true purpose of a Pop-Up Event is “to get more involved in Judaism,” Estavan felt proud that he “influenced people to think about Judaism and the role it plays in their lives.”

Northeast Teen Collective Pop-Up Events provide Machon, and other teen leaders, with opportunities to bring their newfound skills to life while simultaneously creating local, low-barrier to entry, interest-based programs for less engaged peers. Since this summer, more than a dozen Pop-Up Events have already taken place, engaging more than 30 teens who, otherwise, may not have engaged a Jewish experience. The Northeast Teen Collective is excited to create this new pathway for youth engagement, leadership development, and communal collaboration. If you’d like more information about these or other Pop-Up events, or how you can host your own, contact Emily Messinger, Director of the Northeast Teen Collective, at

Learn more about the Northeast Teen Collective and check out our Teen Resources for Pop-Up ideas and more.