By Jenna Wyatt, NFTY-GER
February 2011, and I was headed to Dallas, Texas. I was only in my first year of NFTY and had only attended two events prior, but I could not have been more excited. It almost did not feel real, but I was indeed off to NFTY Convention 2011.
This trip was my first time traveling without family and my first time leaving the east coast, but I traveled with fellow GERites whom have since become like family members to me. I remember waiting for the NFTY bus after landing in Dallas, my friends and I just kept saying, “oh my goodness guys we are in Texas!” — we said it over and over again for quite some time.
NFTY Convention gave me the opportunity to see NFTY on the North American level, and it really made me feel more connected to NFTY as a whole. Seeing how big NFTY really was and what an impact we can all make, made me want to step outside of my comfort zone. I participated in NFTY Competitions 2011 by writing a D’var Torah that focused around the parasha of that week and my Jewish journey thus far. I took my first risk in NFTY and although I did not win the competition, I am glad I took that risk, because it made me want to take many more. Once I stepped out of my comfort zone, I could not wait to step out some more. NFTY Convention made me curious and I began to discover myself as a leader. Among other things, it led me to apply for a NFTY-GER Regional Chair Position, which was a great stepping stone to where I am now. On a smaller level, it made me want to go and meet everyone I could at Convention; And I would like to think that I did just that.
While at Convention I made friendships with so many others from different NFTY regions, such as NFTY Michigan, and strengthened friendships with individuals of my own region, NFTY-GER. Someone told me that I would never see my Convention friends again and that I would lose touch with them. However, that is so untrue. I have since crossed paths again with the friends I made at NFTY Convention 2011, both at the URJ Kutz Camp during Mechina 2012 and the regular camp session. A great part of Convention is seeing the cultures of other regions, meeting people and connecting with old friends. You are bound to run into the friends you’ve made once again, especially if you continue to be an active participant of NFTY.
I wrote a blog post for my congregation after NFTY Convention 2011 and wanted to share a part of it here, because it really captured how I felt as the eager sophomore I was:
NFTY Convention cannot be described in words. This is due to the fact that there are not enough words in the world to properly describe it. NFTY Convention 2011 was one of the best experiences I have ever undergone. Convention shows the unity of all nineteen regions in our NFTY community.
With around 800 voices, 800 hearts and 800 teens joined together we see the magic of Kehillah Kedoshah. Being a sacred community and a single family united, every individual brings something different to the table even if they are a part of a larger picture. Everyone contributes their many different opinions and cultures to make what we have so special.
Convention is a time for making bonds stronger with those whom you already know and for creating bonds with new people from all over the United States and Canada. For instance, at Convention I felt the bond of GERites growing stronger, but I also made strong bonds with new friends that live in other places such as Michigan. Convention truly is an awesome experience and I recommend it to anyone who has the opportunity to go.
Now as a rising senior, who has just returned from an amazing summer at the URJ Kutz Camp, I could not be more excited to attend NFTY Convention 2013 in Los Angeles, California. Not only do I plan on catching up and reconnecting with camp friends at Convention, but I also plan on stepping outside of my comfort zone once again and discovering all that is new.
Do not think that you have to step out of your comfort zone to attend this NFTY North American event or that you cannot go because you are too shy. NFTY Convention is an incredible experience for all who get to attend. All that I said in my sophomore year blog post, I still agree with 101%. Anyone who has the opportunity to attend NFTY Convention 2013 should really go, it is an unbelievable experience to see all of NFTY unified together, to learn, to create friendships, and to see all you love about NFTY on an even larger level. I know that I will be there, and I cannot wait to see you in Los Angeles for NFTY Convention 2013!
NFTY Convention is the biennial North American gathering of the North American Federation of Temple Youth. The only event of its kind, NFTY Convention brings together Reform Jewish teens from all of NFTY’s nineteen regions, our URJ Camps, alumni of our Israel and Mitzvah Corps programs, and teens committed to Reform Jewish life to laugh, learn, pray and sing together. NFTY Convention will take place in Los Angeles, CA from February 15-19, 2013.
To learn more about the event, available scholarships and to register, visit www.nfty.org/convention.