By Isaac Strauss, NFTY-PAR President
In the beginning of the summer at Mechina (the NFTY General Board Meeting and Leadership Development program at Kutz Camp), I didn’t think that the NFTY-PAR Regional Board would grow particularly close with anyone outside of our region. I knew that the event would be a great experience for us and that there was a lot to learn about being leaders within our region however, I was doubtful that deep connections would be made within a short period of time. What happened at Mechina was quite the opposite. The PAR Regional Board and myself forged a great friendship with many of the other Regional Board members, but particularly our neighbor region; NFTY-MAR. Our Boards found a lot in common with each other and we often spent a lot of time together at the event. It also just so happened that our Regional Advisors were very close friends too. It was as if our regions were destined to work together throughout the year.
So, when Amanda Wachstein, the NFTY-PAR Advisor, contacted me over the summer and presented the idea of a leadership exchange between NFTY-PAR and NFTY-MAR, I fully embraced the idea. The plan was for the NFTY-PAR Regional Board to attend NFTY-MAR’s first event of the year, JELL-O, and for the NFTY-MAR Regional Board to attend NFTY-PAR’s Fall Kallah, which occurred this past weekend. The amount of value that we discovered in this plan is going to be pretty difficult to express within this brief article; but I’ll do my best.
When the PAR Regional Board went to NFTY-MAR’s Jell-O event, we were met with enthusiastic and extremely kind MARites who were ready to welcome us with open arms. We found it extremely eye opening and beneficial to see how another region runs their events. The PAR Board was able to participate in the programming and even help lead a few of the workshops at the event. I particularly admired the togetherness of NFTY-MAR and how close everyone seemed to be. I admired the effective leadership that the MAR Regional Board displayed and the PAR Board definitely learned a lot from experiencing how they lead their events.
This past weekend, the NFTY-MAR Regional Board attended NFTY-PAR’s Fall Kallah, which is our third event of the year and usually one of our largest attended. I was so grateful that they came and they were of so much help throughout the weekend. Particularly when I accidentally sent the participants to lunch a half hour early, Presidents make mistakes too! I began to panic and tried brainstorming ways to stall and keep the participants engaged. The MAR Board came to the rescue and quickly acted by leading the participants in fun games and comic activities. I was so grateful for their improvisation and the region fully embraced them. It was instances like these where I admired this leadership exchange and how incredible it is that our regions were able to work so well together.
Given my incredible experience with this leadership exchange, I highly encourage other regions to do the same. The benefits that came out of this experience are priceless. I remember hearing the PAR Board talk about how they wish that they could have MAR Board attend every NFTY-PAR event due to their helpfulness and enthusiasm for NFTY. The bond created between our two Boards will prove to be of huge importance. I now know that when I am struggling with my responsibilities as PAR President, not only do I have an incredible Regional Board to look towards, but a neighbor Regional Board as well who cares just as much for the success of our region as we do for them. To the NFTY-MAR Regional Board, thank you for giving PAR Board and myself a unique and special experience in working with you. Your hard work and incredible leadership left a permanent mark on NFTY-PAR. Not only did we learn the value of collaboration, but we also learned the power of friendship with our Jewish peers.