By Rabbi Yarden Blumenstein, Judaic Studies teacher
UMatter. It’s a complete sentence. In today’s social media driven, high-speed world of unhealthy comparison, our teens and tweens struggle with that concept – that they actually matter to someone. If we are being honest, I think the adults in our world struggle with this as well.
“Am I good enough?” “Am I needed?” “What do I have to do in order to actually matter?” These are the unspoken questions roiling teens today. And the answer to me is – Umatter! Unconditionally. There is absolutely nothing that you can do to change that, nothing that can make you more or any less essential in the world. With a resilient mindset of acceptance, love, unconditional investment, and faith in place, our youth can be creative and expressive, and ultimately, do great things and fulfill their potential.
This message is the underlying theme and foundation of UMatter week, a program in place in 18 local high schools, and which is coming to Hillel’s fifth through eighth grades before Pesach. The peer-to-peer program works by students coming together to connect with their values, and to find their own healthy methods of expression. The end goal is for students to become lamplighters in their social circles and areas of influence, dispelling the stigma of mental health struggles, and reminding all that each one of us possesses a soul worthy of boundless love.
In closing, there is a quote of my mentor and teacher, The Lubavitcher Rebbe, that really drives this point home for me: “The very fact that you are here, in this place, at this time and with these opportunities available to you, means that there is something to be done — something that only you can do, something of utmost importance to G‑d.”
To learn more about UMatter, please visit friendshipcircle.org/umatter.
To sign up for our upcoming One Thing I Wish You Knew event, please visit friendshipcircle.org/umatter-event