By Avra Bossov, NFTY Social Action Vice-President
People. Pathways. Partnerships. It’s funny how a thing you say on a conference call can wind up being projected to a few hundred people and then distributed as the slogan for the Campaign for Youth Engagement.
It’s the people we meet and share this journey through NFTY with that shape who we become. We can all think of that senior who remembered our name as freshmen; the advisor that has helped us grow as regional board members; the fellow board members that turn into best friends; the enthusiastic individuals who turn into your successors before your eyes; the overwhelming community that 100 or so people can create in 72 hours and maintain throughout the year. There are several people in this very room without whom I would surely be a less cognizant, intentional, and better person.
Those relationships we form are the kind we don’t find anywhere else. When we classify our “school friends” and our “NFTY friends,” we do so because the caliber of our relationship here simply cannot be matched. For this reason, I urge you to take the time to reflect on the support system NFTY has in place. If those who have impacted you are in this room, please make eye contact with that person at this time. Taking the time to acknowledge an individual makes all the difference in the world. As regional board members, #generationalleadership is one of the most coveted facets of your role in your region and in NFTY as a whole.
It’s the pathways we take through opportunities and immersive experiences. The regional events, camps, biennials, l’taken seminars, conventions, synagogue functions, trips to Israel, Mitzvah Corps programs…these pathways we venture on expose us to the lessons we take back to our regions and internalize as individuals each on our Jewish journey. I can honestly say that the 8 summers I spent at URJ Camp Coleman, the other summers spent at URJ Kutz Camp, the 30+ NFTY events I have attended over my 4 years and term, the L’Taken seminars I have staffed, and numerous other Jewish functions within the sphere have provided the foundation for my Judaism thus far.
The pathways we follow also relate to our choices. Even if you didn’t choose to come to your first NFTY event, you did choose to come back. You chose to sit next to someone at an event; you chose to answer a discussion question during a program. And at this point, what we do next – what our next pathway is – the choices we make today that effects tomorrow – that’s what our focus shifts to as we end our terms. I urge you to choose the things that make the most impact. I urge whatever your pathway that you do not forget your past. NFTY is where you came from; carry it with you in your heart.
It’s the partnerships we create that fulfill the connections of our relationships. In NFTY, we have all types of partnerships: from alliances among regions to Big-TYG, Little-TYG programs to network buddies to liaison systems that link TYGs together. We also have networks – the five networks of Presidents, PVPs, SAVPs, RCVPs, and MCFVPs.
The Presidents this year have led our regions in running successful and meaningful events; The Programming Vice Presidents have pushed our regions’ programmatic boundaries that have developed our ability to express ourselves and articulate our beliefs and values. The Religious and Cultural Vice Presidents have created a family that has brought deeper connections to our Judaism through innovative prayer services. The MCFVP network has harnessed our membership and merchandise in a way that displays our pride and values. And our Social Action Vice President network has been a powerhouse for passion and dedication. The work we have done together as a movement is a testament to the strength of our partnerships.
This has been the year where we have launched the Campaign for Youth Engagement, collaborated with the Coalition of Jewish Teen Leaders, celebrated the Religious Action Center’s 50th Anniversary, and in May, we will unite as a movement to take action in our local communities to bridge human divides.
How do I end? It’s a question we ask ourselves at this point in the year, as we embark on our home stretch. NFTY cannot be found in the thesaurus – there is nothing else that encompasses all the aspects of our organization and movement that would do this acronym justice. Between now and the end of your term, reflect on your past; appreciate your present; and extend your vision of NFTY and your region to the future. Keep your people, pathways, and partnerships in mind. Be an advocate—stand up for what you believe in, and make sure your voice is heard.
Thank you for the opportunity to have served as your Social Action Vice President this year.