By Trevor Mann, NFTY-NO member and President of SPORTY
I can recall a specific quote that was used in a NFTY Northern Council meeting this past year. An amendment was being proposed and someone stated that, “TYGs are the life and the base of NFTY regions.” This quote could not be more accurate.
TYGs (Temple Youth Groups) work hard to create events for participants to enjoy. Their effort and passion is clearly evident in their planning process, outreach, and final product. TYGs focus on engaging each other, building relationships, and learning through programming. TYGs present an opportunity for Jewish teens to get excited about meeting others like them and to feel comfortable as a Jewish teenager within their smaller communities. In my personal experiences, TYGs have become cohesive groups by doing anything from creating mini-golf courses in a Hebrew school, to creatively making Havdallah, to learning about sukkot, to making T-shirt pillows to donate to charities. TYG members watch movies, do Social Action projects, eat, pray, and be themselves. TYGs do many things that influence our society. For instance, It is a tradition in SPORTY, a TYG in Saint Paul, Minnesota, to hold a High Holy Day food drive very year. Also, TIPTY, a TYG in Minneapolis, Minnesota, participates in a Meals on Wheels program on Thanksgiving. In SHFTY, Milwaukee, Wisconsin, the youth group makes breakfast for the Sojourner Truth House, which is a facility for female victims of domestic abuse, every Christmas morning. TYGs achieve Tikkun Olam while still having fun.
The coolest moment I have ever had as a Jew was at a TYG event. We were watching a movie at an event when a new member of my TYG approached me and thanked others and myself for convincing her that she was welcome at these events. This is what it’s all about. TYGs serve as a place for Jewish teens to be free and enjoy their religious and personal identities.