By Caleb Schroder, NFTY-MV Regional President
NFTY is a youth-led organization, and with that it is the responsibility of the Jewish teenage leaders to facilitate change within our beloved organization. Asefah (NFTY’s General Board meeting) is where those changes are made.
My name is Caleb Schroder, and I’m the NFTY-Missouri Valley President for 2012-2013. I come from Littleton, Colorado (a suburb just outside of Denver) and my Temple Youth Group is B’nai Chaim Temple Youth (BCTY). At NFTY Convention, I had the pleasure of attending attended the 2013 Asefah; I love Asefah because it’s a special operation within NFTY where the youth leaders get the opportunity to really make a difference in our organization. The 2012-2013 General Board thought hard and thoroughly discussed several proposed changes to the NFTY Constitution, Brit Kehilah, and the organization’s direction for next year.
The Study Theme of “L’dor V’dor: NFTY Focuses on Tradition” was proposed, however, the General Board instead decided to renew the current study theme of “Hashomer Achi Anochi: Am I My Brother’s Keeper?” The board decided that there is still so much more to explore within the current theme – we have only scraped the surface of the responsibilities we have to our fellow man, Jew, and friends.
The NFTY Action Theme for next year, written with contributions from many regions, will be “Lo Yisa Goy El Goy Cherev: NFTY Learns about Conflict Resolution.” I am very excited about the future of this theme, and NFTY should be too. Because conflict is not narrowed by any particular definition, we have the opportunity in the coming year to address struggles on interpersonal, social, political, national, ideological, and global levels; the possibilities are endless. Under this theme, NFTY as an organization can become a youth leader in resolving conflict, expressing differing opinions, and making grounds for compromises. In other words, we have the chance to create a more peaceful world both within and without ourselves.
Following the decisions on the Study and Action themes, the NFTY General Board made a historic decision amendment for the NFTY community: the amendment would separate the North American Board Position of Membership and Cultural Vice President (MCVP) into the separate positions of Membership Vice President (MVP) and Communications Vice President (CVP). As the amendment passed with resounding success and support, our movement’s growth became that much more evident. As the URJ launches and maintains its Campaign for Youth Engagement, NFTY demonstrates its support by creating a position whose responsibility it is to excite the Jewish youth of the future and of today to engage in an active Jewish lifestyle. At a time when youth retention rates are down universally, this change could not be more welcomed.
Finally, NFTY took a step forward in its initiative to remain an accepting and supportive environment. The NFTY Brit K’hillah, or Code of Conduct, was edited to include a clause on ‘no bullying.’ Additionally, the General Board passed a resolution that would put more power in the hands of the North American Board, NFTY Leadership Team, and NFTY General Board when it comes to updating and maintaining the Brit K’hillah; this demonstrates our passion for becoming responsible and respectful members of our community and the larger society.
This Asefah could not have been a more eventful or engaging meeting of the NFTY General Board. It has demonstrated the ability of our organization and movement to accept change, move forward, and think deeply about the world around us. NFTY isn’t perfect—shocking, I know. But we are not stagnant; and we shouldn’t be. With the efforts of current and future generations, changes can be refined and added to. Who knows what NFTY will look like in 10, 20, 50 years? I don’t. But I do know that change is good and that NFTY is taking steps to become the best it can be.