Blog  NFTY-PAR: My Final Event…Spring Kallah

NFTY-PAR: My Final Event…Spring Kallah

By Mike Brest, MaLTY PVP

NFTY-PAR held Elections in early March for the 2014-2015 year. I paid to go and drove for over an hour to arrive at Congregation Shir Ami by nine in the morning. My parents didn’t understand why I wanted to do it, the newly elected Regional Board would not affect me, but they complied to make me happy. When I arrived, I greeted everyone and made sure everyone running was calm and relaxed. Honestly, I probably give my friends running more attention, but I made sure I wished all thirteen candidates good luck. As each candidate gave his or her speech, and MaLTY deliberated, I offered my input as a seemingly unbiased participant, who just wanted to leave PAR in the best hands. I would like to congratulate the incoming Board once again. I am proud of each and every one of you for taking a risk and running. Following PAR Elections, I had one event left. But I couldn’t comprehend what it meant. Like every other event, I had a countdown on my phone, and looked forward to it. I put it out of my mind that it was my final event. The first time it truly set in, was as I pulled into Congregation Brith Achim to meet the bus.

Seniors get honored with an Aliyah at Shabbat services

Seniors get honored with an Aliyah at Shabbat services

As the bus pulled into Camp Harlam, I took a deep breath and realized that I didn’t know the next time I would be at here. I looked at the camp sign and quickly reflected on the past year. But then, the first time I saw someone who wasn’t on my bus, I pushed those thoughts out of my mind and got excited. The beginning of this weekend was like every other. We got off the bus, grabbed our stuff, and ran to hug our friends. Then we went to put our stuff down, only to continue the hugging and greetings. The rest of Friday didn’t feel any different either. Saturday, the first time it truly hit me was when all of the male and female seniors went to different places to have their own discussions about next year. As surprising as this sounds, it’s probably unimaginable for most people; the senior boys didn’t discuss sex. Instead, we discussed the scariness of being in a new situation, without knowing many, if any people. I can’t speak for everyone, but I know I walked out of that room feeling so much better about the uncertainness of leaving PAR and my home for college. Then, later on, as the underclassmen got on stage to roast the seniors and it was now my turn for my roast, I felt a lump grow in my throat and my eyes started to get a little teary. Within the first fifteen seconds, I couldn’t help myself from laughing. The jokes they made were great; but it meant more to me that they put time and effort into it. I enjoyed every second of it. Even though it was supposed to be a gentle mocking, it became obvious of the PAR legacy and what people would remember about me. I couldn’t have been happier with the way it turned out and it meant the world to me. The hardest part of the night was at Senior Circle. As the first person got that candle and made their way around the circle, I started thinking about what I should say. As the candle was handed to me, I took a deep breath and squeezed my eyes shut to avoid tears from falling down my cheeks. I knew what I wanted to say, and psychologically thought that tears would diminish and take away from the message I was trying to say. First of all, I wanted to thank Sophie Kaplan for unintentionally giving me a compliment that would turn me into the leader I became. Primarily though, I had a different message to share. This was my eighth event. If you include Elections, which aren’t usually, I’d be at ten. PARites who have been to ten events get a bracelet to commemorate it. I hadn’t earned it, and yet I was able to make a difference in our community. I wanted everyone to know that I spent very little time in PAR but I was still able to make a difference. I found something I was passionate about, and I put all my time and effort into it. Tears would have undermined the point I was trying to make, so I tried as hard as I could to make the waterworks wait. Once I handed the candle off, it didn’t take long for the tears to start flowing. I spent the rest of the night crying surrounded by my closest friends in the world. I don’t know when we will be together again, but I can promise that Spring Kallah 2014 won’t be the last time.

On Sunday, some of the seniors decided to go watch the sunrise at the Chapel on the Hill. Even though there was a large wall of clouds spanning from one side of the sky to the other, it didn’t matter. During such a stressful period in the lives of high school seniors, sitting up there, watching the blissful clouds slowly moving, was the most relaxing experience in a long time. I wish I could’ve actually seen the sun appear on the horizon but it was the secondary meaning behind the decision to get up early and go out. While up there, I spent a majority of the time replaying my time in PAR in my head. I finally came to peace with it being my last event. As soon as I came to that conclusion, we started to head back after about an hour on the hill.

As Friendship Circle began, I sat down next to some of my closest friends. My eyes glanced around the room and I saw so many people that have helped me become the person I am. Each board member stood up to recap the event, and it finally started to sink in. One lonely tear fell from my eye. I wiped it away, and just smiled as I made eye contact with others. Once all of the board members and Amanda had the opportunity to speak, every person in the room jumped to their feet and belted out “Song for the Divine Mother of the Universe” for the last time. Just as the lyrics say, we sang with all of our “heart and soul”. We came together as a community and as the tears rushed down the faces of many, it became clear that this wasn’t the last time I would see these people, but the last time I would be at an event, and there’s a big difference. After PAR completed the song, the hugs and waterworks began. I have a vague recollection of who I hugged, what I said, and how many tears I shed. However, I do know that whatever I said, I meant it and whomever I said it to, deserved it. Throughout my time in PAR, I have tried my best to teach the underclassmen how to be upperclassmen. I need to trust the underclassmen that I, as well as all of the seniors, instilled the proper ideas, knowledge, and wisdom within them.

Once I got home after the event, I didn’t really know what to do or how to feel. Like always, I decided to read my PARgrams. They brought tears to my eyes. I kept them in my pocket for the rest of the day, and the day after. Feeling the stack of PARgrams in my shorts pocket was a warm reminder of the loving community I am still a part of. They now rest in a folder, along with my 2013-2014 PAR yearbook and the Senior Wills packet on my nightstand. I have opened that folder every day since Spring Kallah. This folder will come with me as I enter college and I plan to add many things that can put a smile on my face. My time in PAR cannot be measured by the mementos I put in a folder, but each one symbolizes a little piece of me and the journey I have taken. I will never truly be able to verbalize how much PAR means to me… thank you all for everything.

Gonna Live and Die N-F-T-Y….And remember, just because the seniors aren’t a part of the organization anymore, doesn’t mean they aren’t a part of the family.