Going to the 7th and 8th grade NFTY GER event was one of the best decisions I have ever made. From the first day of meeting my bunkmates to the last day of saying goodbye to the many friends I had made, every moment was amazing. I loved meeting everyone, including the older teens. This past weekend was such an incredible experience for me and I can’t wait for the next NFTY GER event.
When I first heard of NFTY, I didn’t know what to expect. I wanted to go to the event, but I was a bit hesitant because I had never done anything like it before. When I got to Kutz, my first thought was, “those guys are weird,” but it turned out that they were a good kind of weird. I had a good time and I really liked the people I met, especially those in my bunk – I had a great time playing games and pigging out during bunk bonding, and my RA’s, Lee Wilson and Justin Horgan, were hilarious. It was nice to be able to relate to them because we were so close in age. One of my favorite parts of the weekend was havdallah; the music was the same that we had used when I was little, and I learned some new tunes too, and it was so cool to spiral into the service. I can’t wait for the next event!
Ever since I was little, I have loved sleeping over at my next-door neighbor’s house. Sara, my neighbor, would tell me all about her experiences at Camp Harlam. We would talk for hours and hours about the friends she’d made and the amazing services she had participated in. I could not have been more jealous. After begging my parents for more than two years to let me go to camp, they finally said okay. Camp Harlam has been one of the most amazing experiences of my life, and has been my second home for the past two years. After my first summer there, I understood what Sara meant when she said that it truly is where friends become family.
I had an experience very similar to this with NFTY-GER. Sara made sure I was signed up for the 7th and 8th grade event, and I’m so happy she did, because this experience has changed my life.
Sitting on the bus on the way there, I knew that I was about to have the experience of a lifetime. All of us just instantly clicked. We felt so comfortable around each other, which was something I had never experienced before. At the start, none of us knew one another; we were a bunch of strangers forced to step out of our comfort zone and meet new people and try new things. I’m almost sure all of us are happy we did, because doing this made us no longer strangers, but a family.
When we arrived at Kutz, we all went to drop off our overstuffed bags in our bunks. Though the girls in my bunk only had the chance to talk for a couple of minutes, but that was the moment we all knew that we were going to be friends forever. Personally, I opened up more with them than I have with some friends I’ve known for years.
It’s amazing, isn’t it? That a bunch of middle-schoolers, in only two days, became so close? It is pretty crazy. That’s what NFTY-GER did for us. It created those unbreakable bonds that we all know won’t just end when we get off the bus from our last NFTY-GER event. These friendships will last forever. NFTY-GER has had such an impact on our lives already, and that was just our first event!
NFTY-GER has always been something I’ve wanted to do ever since I saw how passionate Sara was about it. And after attending my first event, I totally get it now. Now I’m passionate about NFTY-GER myself and can’t wait to spend my next four years participating in all of its events.
The wonderful thing about GERites.
By Barak Malkin- Youth Professional
This weekend, NFTY-GER’s first 7th and 8th Grade Kallah was held and what happened among there was pure magic. The Junior Youth Group (JYG) participants created what we would all describe as a “NFTY community”. The participants all bonded quickly with unfamiliar faces, made friends with whoever sat next to them, and acted without reservations or fear of judgment. By the end of the first night, strong relationships had formed between pairs and groups of people that had never met before.
I watched a NFTY community form from nothing. The JYG participants were not given community building advice and no “NFTY traditions” were passed on, but somehow this incredibly welcoming and accepting safehaven environment was created in less than an evening. We have all seen or experienced a NFTY community which is passed on to the incoming 9th graders from those with years of NFTY experience, absorbing them into the already existing community. This weekend, 40 JYG participants created a NFTY community on their own. It wasn’t passed, it wasn’t given, and it wasn’t shown.
This past weekend, NFTY was created.