By Kenny Levy, NFTY-Southwest President. He delivered this D’var Torah to his congregation, Temple Chai in Phoenix, on Rosh Hashanah.
Good morning and Shanah Tovah. For those of you I have not met, my name is Kenny Levy and I am the president of NFTY-SW. As we enter this new year, we ask G-d to forgive us for the sins we have committed in the past year. We thank G-d for the blessings G-d has given us. And we pray for a happy, healthy, and sweet year for our family and friends. As we enter this year, 5774, we in NFTY will address our responsibility to others. This year’s NFTY Study Theme is “Hashomer Achi Anochi”- Am I My Brother’s Keeper? NFTY Studies Our Responsibilities Toward Others. We will be focusing on building and making connections within our “Kehilah Kedoshah,” which is a phrase that seems to make its way into many Jewish speeches and d’vrei torah. This phrase translates to “holy community.” But what does that mean? Who is in your “holy community?” Are your teachers? Your best friend? Your rabbis? Must your “holy community” include the members of your temple? My holy community encompasses many aspects of my life. It includes my family, my friends, my teachers, my rabbis, my advisors, and many others.
When we moved to Arizona 16 years ago, we left all of our family in California. My parents worked hard to build a community here for us to feel a part of and to be able to connect with others. Everyone in your circle plays a role in your life. Different friends mean different things to you. I have school friends and golf friends and I enjoy my time with all of them. I also have my Temple Chai community. I know that the rabbis, teachers, and families here are a strong support system for me. It is through this Temple Chai community that I came to NFTY. The core of my holy community centers around my NFTY and temple life. When I am in a room full of NFTYites, there is a very different presence. Half the room may not know anyone, and as you look around, everyone is accepted and has someone to talk to. When a task needs to be accomplished, the group figures out a way to work together. This is one of the things I love about NFTY.
During late October, Temple Chai will be hosting NFTY-SW’s Fall Kallah. At this event we will learn about what it means to be responsible for others in our community and how to help. Out of NFTY’s 19 regions, and countless temple youth groups nation-wide, Temple Chai’s Temple Youth group has grown to be the 4th largest and 3rd most active temple youth group in all of NFTY. Last year over 40 teens on average attended NFTY-SW events solely from Temple Chai. It is amazing to be a part of such a large community that wants to be involved.
“Alone we can do so little, together we can do so much.” This quote by Hellen Keller teaches us how important it is to work together. A community cannot be created with only one person. TCTY has grown so large, with the help of so many. Each and every one of you has contributed to the growth of this community.
I would like to leave you on this new year with a thought. Shevuot 39a states that “All of Israel is responsible for one another.” What will you do for your community to demonstrate your responsibility in the coming year?