Sunnyvale teen wins international USY leadership post

Aaron Pluemer, a high school senior who lives in Sunnyvale, has been elected international president of United Synagogue Youth.

He was chosen by his peers to lead the 20,000-member organization at USY’s annual international convention in New Orleans last month.

Aaron Pluemer

The only other Bay Area teen to hold the position was Joshua Taff in the late 1990s.

“I’m really excited for the year [term] and to grow the organization,” the 17-year-old Kehillah High School student told J. last week.

USY, the high school affiliate of the United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism, has 350 chapters in the United States and Canada.

An active member in USY since ninth grade, Pluemer previously served as president of his chapter at Congregation Sinai in San Jose and of USY’s New Frontier region, which covers Northern California and Reno.

He also serves as the youth representative to the temple’s board of directors, and is a Shabbat prayer leader and Torah/Haftorah chanter.

“Aaron’s peers respect and look up to him,” said Rabbi Josh Berkenwald of Congregation Sinai. “At a recent New Frontier regional kinus [conference] that our synagogue hosted, I witnessed firsthand how effective his lead-from-behind approach has been at empowering less-experienced youth leaders.”

At the convention in New Orleans, attended by nearly 700 teens, Pluemer ran against two opponents. He is now part of USY’s international six-member board, and is tasked with visiting some of USY’s 17 regions around North America, serving on various committees and helping plan the December 2014 convention in Atlanta.

“I want to make more excitement and create a bigger buzz,” he said about the upcoming year.

Pluemer’s platform promoted increased outreach, improved marketing and better personal connections between USY members and the international board. He believes he will be able to accomplish his goals during his term.

“I’ve been taking a bigger role because I care about the organization,” he said.

Aside from his involvement with USY, Pluemer swims competitively and plans to study electrical engineering next year at college.