By Jake Levine, NFTY-MI Religious & Cultural VP
Coming form a fairly self-contained Jewish community, my Jewish self three years ago wouldn’t recognize me today: shorter hair, different glasses, and the regional RCVP of NFTY-MI. I imagine he would say something like: “What on earth is NFTY?”. Coming out of Biennial, I expect the same reaction, only this time I’ll be asking a different question, like: “How will I continue my Jewish life in college?” or “How can I get involved in youth engagement?”. Biennial, I hope, will be the start of many more endeavors into Judaism and all it has to offer.
My journey through NFTY has been an experience in discovery. When I began NFTY as a freshman, I didn’t even know what NFTY was. To me, my TYG was youth group. As time has gone on, I’ve discovered more and more about our organization: my region, North American NFTY, Kutz, etc. Biennial is the next step: the entire URJ. I can’t wait to see what Reform Judaism can do on such a grand scale.
Of course, I’m not only excited about the program itself, but about the people I will see. Aside from the all-star list of guest speakers, the NFTYites there are worth the trip to DC alone. Not only will I reunite with friends from all over the country, I’ll meet even more. The friendships formed within NFTY are invaluable. I can only imagine the incredible people I’ll have the privilege of meeting in those short four days. There are countless friendships just waiting to happen, and nobody knows it. It’s beyond exciting.
Going into the weekend, I’m not sure what to expect. I’ve read the schedule more times than I can count, been over every email I’ve gotten on the matter. In the end though, the experience will be whatever I make it: fun, educational, inspiring, or anything else. One thing I do know for sure, however it ends up, it will be an event I remember for years to come.