Lexi (Alexis) was born and is being raised in the Twin Cities. She is the sister of Katrina, who is currently in her second year, majoring in civil engineering at Case Western, and “loves it”. Lexi is one active young adult, including as a leader in various Mount Zion youth groups (NFTY, and currently president of SPORTY), and in her many roles as a senior at Saint Paul Academy.
Perhaps most topically, as of this posting, she will be attending the URJ (Union for Reform Judaism) Biennial in Orlando, together with nearly a dozen other Mount Zion members, and amidst 5000 of their closest Jewish friends. Among its music and many other highlights, the Biennial this year will feature an address by Vice President Joe Biden at the Plenary session on Saturday night.
Conferences such as this these days also tend to offer a dizzying array of opportunities for those not attending to connect with those who are. The Plenary sessions will each be broadcast live on the Biennial’s webpage, and as you might expect, there will also be options via Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and YouTube, including the Biennial’s own Twitter hashtag at #URJBiennial.
I admitted to Lexi that I am not particularly adept at these newfangled forms of media (witness the word newfangled). Nor were several of our past Mount Zion Humans, to the point where, at times, I’ve had to either print and mail copies of their articles to them, or at best ‘cc’ them – jokingly adding that that meant literally ‘carbon copy’. She smiled politely, but seemed to have no idea what I meant.
But Lexi does know much more than I do about today’s options, and in addition to telling us more about herself below, has offered to lead us through that maze this week, providing glimpses of the Biennial through her eyes, and iPhone.
Have you seen any of our “Humans of Mount Zion” postings?
I think I have, but I do read the actual Humans of New York site. (emphasis added, and noted)
I know you are going to the Biennial this week, can you tell me how that came about?
I first heard about the Biennial at the NFTY Kallah this past summer. They were advertising it – it was like “Yeah, everyone should go to Biennial!”, and I was sitting by Liza Mole*, and I said ‘so what is a Biennial?” I had gone to Convention the previous year, so I think I had the gist of it. And she said “it’s like Convention – but with adults. And not really NFTY focused”. And I said “that sounds really cool!” And she said “great, I will look into scholarships for you.”
And we went with it. And pretty soon it was “OK! I’m going to Biennial! Cool!”
*Mount Zion’s Youth Engagement Associate
I assume you’ve seen the agenda, and have found some programs you might want to attend?
I did, but it’s confusing. There are tracks, but you don’t have to stay on that track. And there are random luncheons, like Mount Zion is having one, and NFTY.
I haven’t figured out my schedule yet, but it is more confusing than Convention. Because at Convention it’s like, OK, here is this two hour chunk of time, and there will be these ten different meetings you can go to. But at Biennial it all seems a lot more independent.
But I do have two friends that are going, both from NFTY, so it’s going to be interesting to see how different it will be. And to be there as a kid, instead of an adult. I think my mom went to Biennial a few years back.
She did, and I was actually in the group that went with her that year.
Yeah? Oh funny!
So I have downloaded the app that has all the schedules on it, and me and my two friends are going to Skype tonight and try to figure out our schedules.
Let’s go back a second and fill in a bit of your own background.
I was born in Saint Paul, nope, in Minneapolis, at Fairview Riverside Hospital. I lived in Como Park with my mom Jeni, and in St. Anthony Park with my dad Dimitrios, and now live in St Paul with my mom and stepdad Robert. And we live just a couple blocks from temple – so that makes the commute a little easier.
We went to Temple of Aaron for the first few years of my life and then switched to Mount Zion and have been here ever since. I went to Capitol Hill elementary school for first through 8th grade, and now I’ve been at SPA since 9th grade and I’m a senior now. And I am active in sports – Nordic skiing, cross country, and track, so anything with endurance.
You must be heavily into the college application process.
Yeah, I sent in my first applications yesterday, to Case Western, and Northeastern, and to the U of M. And now I am going to wait for regular decision to come around, so I can apply to a few more places.
Do you have a major or career in mind?
No, I am pretty undecided, but I like to say I am thoughtfully undecided, so it’s not as if I don’t know what I want to do with my life. There are a lot of things I’m interested in, so I want to start off with a liberal arts education so that I can dabble in different courses, and then narrow it down. I see a lot of my friends that go to college and do the opposite. They start out really specific, and then realize they don’t want anything to do with that anymore. And that sounds more stressful than just taking a little more time before narrowing it down.
So getting back to the Biennial, how do kids communicate most often these days?
I was actually interested to see the difference between my grade and the ninth graders on SPORTY board. They are really into Snapchat and Instagram, and my grade is more into texting.
So there is a big difference, even between a few grades?
Yeah, it’s weird! And they are way more into their phones than we are. I have to pull their phones away from them during SPORTY meetings, and I tell them “you cannot Snapchat during meetings.”
You must really feel like an adult at that point.
Yeah! I’m like, what has this come to? I thought our grade was bad!
So let’s keep in touch this week and try to figure out how best to connect with you at the Biennial. I’m guessing it may be through Twitter, but I’ll admit I find that very confusing, with all the hashtags and symbols, and different colors, and fonts.
Yeah! And people will put five words into one hashtag, and you’re going – I don’t know how to split this up! I don’t even know why people do hashtags anymore, though some events do use them so people can connect. And people will do like #flag – for no reason! But I’m sure the Biennial will have a hashtag, so if someone posts a picture on it, then other people can post to it.
And we can look at Instagram too, but I assume I’d have to sign up.
I think Humans of Mount Zion should get an Instagram. I think that would be very popular. Because all the people that I know who look at Humans of New York use Instagram, and what they do is post a picture and one quote, and then there is a link to the full story. I think that would be really cool. I think people of ‘my generation’ would be really into that.
That’s a great idea. We will look into that. With that, we parted ways, taking comfort in the fact that future of Reform Judaism seems to be #ingoodhands@last
And now an update from the URJ.
Follow #URJBiennial tweets here.