Greetings from National Harbor, Maryland! NFTY is here in force at the Gaylord Hotel, where this afternoon over 220 teens are arriving for the NFTY Leaders Assembly at the 2011 URJ Biennial. This is the largest contingent of NFTYites to ever attend a biennial. (the previous high was just 140!)
And the spike in interest is understandable. Beyond the cutting edge programming planned by the NFTY North American Board and NFTY leadership teams, NFTYites can look forward to hearing from outgoing URJ President Rabbi Eric Yoffie and RAC President David Sapperstein as well as having a breakfast with incoming URJ President Rabbi Rick Jacobs.
They will of course attend the Friday morning plenary to hear President Barak Obama speak, the first time a US sitting president has ever addressed the URJ, and will be present when the plenary ratifies the Campaign for Youth Engagement, a union initiative to devote more thought and resources to the vital issue of engaging Jewish youth.
In addition to a number of uniquely NFTY prayer experiences, we will celebrate Shabbat as one biennial, first in a grand service and then in the largest Shabbat dinner ever (we think!)
They will spend their Saturday at a number of Washington area museums and monuments, taking in the local culture and history, and appreciating the wonderful learning experiences that Washington has to offer.
All in all, the NFTYites are in for a once in a lifetime opportunity. Don’t worry if you are stuck at home, though: every plenary session from the entire Biennial will be streaming online, and this blog will be home to updates from NFTYites and staff to keep everyone up to date on the latest news and happenings from the Leaders Assembly.