Interview with Founding Memphis Teen Co-leaders

Salaam & Shalom to the Sisters in Memphis!

The co-leaders (Orli Katz, Sarah Unowsky, and Damla Onder), and I, Yagmur Onder, just recently started our chapter in Memphis, Tennessee. Our reasons for the creation of this chapter range between the desire to create stronger friendships with those in our cultural communities and having a space with others of our religious cultures to discuss relatable issues and personal hardships:

Damla: I was excited to join the SOSS community because it gives me a chance to form bonds with other girls my age of my religion. On top of that, I get to become close with girls who also practice Judaism. Being a leader means that I can help bring more people together in our community. Being a part of SOSS helps everyone view a new perspective of a different person, different cultures, and different religions. We are the beginning of this chapter in Memphis which means it is all in our hands to keep it going.

Orli: I am excited about the sisterhood because of the relationships I will build. Through community service, learning, and bonding I look forward to creating and growing amazing friendships. I am excited to be a part of such a powerful group of young women working to bridge communities and better the city of Memphis. I can’t wait to see what our chapter will accomplish!

Sarah: I am extremely excited to be a part of SOSS. From my involvement in my BBYO (international Jewish teen organization) chapter to my involvement in various group projects at school, I generally enjoy taking on leadership positions. As SOSS chapter co-leaders, however, I have the opportunity to be leaders of something that we start from scratch. Our chapter began with us, and it will hopefully continue on long after we graduate. It is up to us to set the tone for how our chapter will operate in the future, long after it so out of our hands. Our first meeting revealed some of our chapter’s flaws and strengths, and it is up to as as leaders to learn from our flaws and capitalize on our strengths. I am thrilled to see where we go from here as we further build our membership and begin creating quality programs and volunteer opportunities for our members.

Yagmur: SOSS is important to me, regardless of the range of engagement in religion within my family and my community, because my Muslim identity is significant with my family in Turkey. With SOSS, I get the opportunity to meet other girls who practice both Islam and Judaism, and develop relationships with them that would be hard for me with others who don’t have those similar hardships or cultural aspects. Within our political climate, I think having this safe space that SOSS provides allows there to be a more unified sense of security within our communities.

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