Blog  NFTY Alumni: TIFTY at 60

NFTY Alumni: TIFTY at 60

By Rabbi Lester Polonsky, NFTY and TIFTY Alumni

TIFTY at 60

Back Row Left to Right: Robert Portman, Edward Rainen, Michael Sokol, Mark Shainker, and Bruce Flashenburg Front Row Left to Right: Lester Polonsky, Jay Sandler, Suzanne Tabasky, Charles Shachat

Through the purple haze of the turbulent 1960’s an intangible bond was formed among members of TIFTY. Temple Tifereth Israel of Malden, Massachusetts became the center of our Jewish and social lives.

As a Reform congregation, Temple Tifereth Israel created the connection to the NFTY network as we became actively involved in NEFTY, the New England region. Regional events such as dances and conclaves provided unique opportunities to discuss common concerns with other Reform Jewish youth in the metropolitan Boston area.

The new music of Bob Dylan, Simon and Garfunkel , and Peter, Paul and Mary  and the Vietnam War and Peace movement created an exciting time for Jewish discussions about political issues.

Some people believe that the turbulent 60’s ended with the Nixon resignation, but for us, it  ended in 1969 with high school graduation. Each of us began to follow our dreams  and aspirations.  We would become as Abraham who heard the divine call of Lech Lecha to begin the journey to the unknown.  Some of us pursued a careers in business, some of us became lawyers and teachers,  psychologists .  Inspired by involvement  in NFTY, I  became a rabbi.

Our life’s journeys were filled with the joys of  marriages, children grandchildren and the sadness of divorce and the death of a spouse.

Recently we lost one of our friends, Bruce Flashenburg who lost his 7-year battle with Cancer. He was able to join us for our reunion. He will be remembered for his courage and his positive outlook on life.

Now decades later, we have reunited to celebrate our  lives and NFTY that brought us together.  Through the miracle of the Internet and Face book, we met on a very warm July weekend at a resort in Connecticut to rekindle those NFTY bonds.  We traveled from Massachusetts, California, Florida and New York. Jobs, children, grandchildren, personal medical concerns and world political issues were the topics of conversation. Wherever the conversation led, it always returned to those years in NFTY.