Young Jewish Professionals Group Retreat To The Rapids

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For the 28th year in a row, Young Jewish Leadership Concepts (YJLC) will host the Pocono Rafting Leadership Weekend. 

For the 28th year in a row, Young Jewish Leadership Concepts (YJLC) will host the Pocono Rafting Leadership Weekend. 
 
The nonprofit organization for young professionals between the ages of 21 and mid-30s, which focuses on networking, socializing and giving back to the community, specializes in offering outdoors-oriented experiences like rafting in the summer and skiing trips in the winter.
 
This year’s white-water getaway, from July 31 to Aug. 2, will give young adults the opportunity to get in touch with nature by rafting on the Lehigh River and hiking, while also learning from keynote speaker Sally Oren, wife to former Israeli ambassador to the United States Michael Oren. The weekend will also include social mixers, a sunset Havdalah service and a group discussion led by Oren via webcam.
 
Lou Balcher, YJLC’s founder, passed on this year’s event planning to his 26-year-old son, David.
 
“I’ve been going on this trip probably since I was born,” said the son. “It’s a great excuse to get away from the city.”
 
David Balcher said he expects about 20 to 30 people to attend one of the organization’s biggest events of the year. He said rafting is a great team bonding experience — unless he gets pulled into the river like he did last year — and an easy way to break the ice and develop strong friendships.
 
He added that there is always a learning component at these retreats that relates to Israeli advocacy or current events. 
 
Lou Balcher used to work as the director of academic affairs at the Consulate General of Israel to the Mid-Atlantic Region, where he made appointments for Michael Oren to visit the Philadelphia area. When the Orens were in Philadelphia a few weeks ago to promote the former ambassador and now Knesset member’s new book, “Ally: My Journey Across the 
American-Israeli Divide,” Balcher convinced Sally Oren to speak to the group.  
 
She will discuss her move to and views on Israel, her time in Washington and her youth growing up in San Francisco with rock legends like Janis Joplin and Jefferson Airplane.
 
YJLC member Megan Helzner, 29, has been involved with the organization for about five years, and said she greatly enjoys discussing life experiences 
with professionals and diplomats conferenced like Sally Oren. 
 
Helzner’s last rafting trip experience was about four years ago. Her favorite part was listening to the story of Marina Furman, who talked about how she escaped the Soviet Union and what it was like for Jews to live there. 
 
“We leveraged these connections in the Jewish community to make these incredible people available for young folks,” she said. “There’s something for all different types of people with all different kinds of interests.” 
 
Contact: rkurland@jewishexponent.com; (215-832-0737).

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