On Dec. 25, at its international convention in Boston, United Synagogue Youth (USY), the Conservative movement’s 20,000-member youth group, elected Michael Sacks, a senior at Sierra Canyon School in Chatsworth, as its new international president.
The next day, Sacks and 30 other USY members from the Far West region joined a crowd of more than 1,000 — most of them teenage members of the youth group — in Boston’s Copley Square for a rally to end gun violence.
“It wasn’t a rally for or against gun control or something like that,” Sacks said. “It was a rally against gun violence, which is not a political issue.”
Among the speakers at the Dec. 26 rally were Colin Goddard, 27, who was shot four times in the 2007 massacre at Virginia Tech and now works for the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, and Pastor Corey Brooks, who leads a nondenominational Christian church in Chicago and spent 130 days in 2012 walking from New York to Los Angeles in an effort to draw attention to the gun violence endemic to inner cities.
Sacks, 18, is a member of Temple Aliyah in Woodland Hills and is also president of USY’s Far West region, which includes Southern California, Arizona, Southern Nevada, New Mexico, Utah and Hawaii. The first member of the region in 15 years to become USY’s top youth officer, Sacks said he believes Conservative youth are joining the Jewish community in taking a strong stand against gun violence.
“This is a problem that is affecting our youth,” he said, “and our youth is taking action to make sure it isn’t a problem in the future.”