By Miranda Rosen, NFTY-SW Ruach Chair
My name is Miranda, and I believe in friendship. No, not the cliché, over exaggerated movie recreation of what a friendship should be, but rather a pure, honest form of the word. I believe in a friendship where you don’t even have to think about it—it almost comes naturally. A type of friendship where you don’t have to pretend to be anyone but yourself, and you are completely loved for exactly who you are.
I know, it honestly sounds impossible. I mean, a group of teenagers not really conforming to any social stereotype, not judging one another, and not being fake. Believe it or not, this weekend I was lucky enough to attend an event where things like that were a common occurrence. If you can’t tell by my voice that I mostly lost after an amazing four days, it was truly unbelievable. It was called West Coast Party, and it is EIE alumni, Camp Newman alumni, Camp Kalsman alumni, and a NFTY event for CWR, SoCal, Northwest, and Southwest. We met at a place called Camp Newman nestled in the hills of Santa Rosa, California where I’m lucky enough to spend most of my summers each year. All 380 of the teens that attended were ecstatic to see each other; after all, most of us only get to spend a few times a year actually with each other because of the distance between where we live. But for the weekend, Camp Newman became our home. You would think spending months apart would break any high school friendship, after all according to popular legend and most Facebook statuses, people are always “shady”, “changing”, and “two-faced”, but for us, it only makes our bonds stronger. It makes our friendships special and irreplaceable. When I saw my friends for the first time in months, and in some cases years, I found myself telling them my inner most secrets within minutes because, well, that’s just how it is between all of us. That’s our friendship, really. It’s trusting, it’s honest, it’s pure. Being with these people remind me that no matter what is happening in your life, there will always be someone to assure you that everything will be alright.
True friendship like the kind I have found at Camp Newman and NFTY never leaves you, it only reminds you how beautiful life can be. There is a saying in our culture that says “if I am not for myself, than who will be for me?” I take this to mean that if I am not myself, then I can’t expect others to be themselves with me. In this community, in this group of true friends I have, we all let go and are able to be ourselves.
So join NFTY, spend your summer doing a Mitzvah Corps, go to Newman or Kutz, spend a semester in Israel with EIE. Take advantage of how lucky you are to be able to have all of these great experiences. You only have four years in high school, make it a four years that’s worth celebrating. Four years in which you have the best times of your lives in a URJ program. After all, without these bonds you make at all of these events that make life so spectacular, you’re alive, but you’re not really living. I believe in friendship, I believe in camp, I believe in NFTY, I believe in the magic that happens at any URJ event, and I know I’m not the only one.