By Jenny Swift, member of NFTY-SW and the youth group TSTY (Temple Solel Temple Youth). She was very excited to make it off the waiting list and into Biennial!
This December, I got a chance to go to the NFTY Leadership Assembly at the URJ Biennial. One thing that I learned really stuck with me. By confirmation, 10th grade, 65% of a B’nai Mitzvah class is no longer affiliated. By senior year, another 15% become unaffiliated. By the time children go off to college, only 20% keep their ties to Judaism and to their congregation.
I realized that the 215 teens from across North America who were at Biennial were the 20%. I also realized that for many of these high school teens, NFTY was their main connection to their Judaism. All of the people there were just like me, and despite there only being two other SWites, I met other kids from all over the US and Canada whom I could talk to and feel comfortable with. I discovered that no matter how different the regions are, or how far apart people live, there is an instant connection with another NFTYite. And on Friday, when we had the honor of hearing President Obama speak, within the first two minutes, he gave a shout out to NFTY. We went wild and cheered loud enough for the whole room of over 5000 people to hear. Being called out by name by the President of the United States was an indescribable feeling. Throughout my short time in NFTY, I’ve discovered that NFTY is full of indescribable and wonderful moments.