Blog  NFTY-President: What Can Legislation Do For Us?

NFTY-President: What Can Legislation Do For Us?

Debbie Rabinovich is the President of NFTY.

In March of 2011, I was writing a speech to run for SAVP of my temple youth group, LIBERTY. I knew two things to be true:

  • I loved the feeling that came with volunteering at the refugee center in Charlotte.
  • I loved the feeling that came with being at NFTY events.

The marriage of these two aspects of my life propelled me to do some research. What did NFTY care about that I could talk about in my speech?

Members of the North American board prepare legislation before their Asefah at NFTY's Mechina.

Members of the North American board prepare legislation before their Asefah at NFTY’s Mechina.

In June of 2006, I was finishing 5th grade. The NFTY General Board of 2006-2007 passed a resolution on immigration. The final action clause of that resolution read:

LET IT BE RESOLVED that NFTY support local, regional, and national efforts to secure the passage of legislation that facilitates efforts to guarantee the continued improvement of the citizenship process and the continued provision of basic services such as essential health care and childhood education to undocumented immigrants and workers

In March of 2011, I read that resolution as I researched for my speech and felt, more strongly than ever before, that NFTY was a movement that I cared to be a part of. My parents are immigrants, my aunts and uncles are immigrants, some of my closest friends are immigrants. As a Hispanic American, the issue of immigration and the stigmatization of Latinos hits especially close to home. Seeing that my Jewish community took a stand to protect and advocate for the immigrants that make up a majority of the Latino community was awe-inspiring.

In August of 2014, that resolution from 2006 is still one of the many reasons why I believe in NFTY and why I encourage participation in NFTY’s legislative process.

However, in August of 2014, I know one thing to be true:

  •  Legislation is not enough.

NFTY resolves to change the world often. Resolutions we pass have impact, but few achieve the potential influence they could have. Here are a four more things that are true:

  • NFTY is a proud affiliate of the URJ and maintains a close partnership with its others affiliates including the RAC, the WRJ, and Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion
  • NFTY is ARZA’s official youth branch
  • NFTY is a snif (branch) of Netzer Olami, which connects us to the World Union for Progressive Judaism
  • NFTY is a partner of the NAACP

We have a wealth of resources at our fingertips and we do not reach out often enough to activate them. NFTY resolves to change the world often and here’s the thing: we can.

Open any newspaper. Immigration is a crisis. Racial tensions in Ferguson are a crisis. The fighting between Israel and Gaza is a crisis. We can do more than just legislate about these things. Resolutions affect change when we collaborate with our partners to create ideas. Ideas become action when we inspire those around us to join us in our work. We’re a movement of doers, so let’s do this: mobilize people to help us succeed.

Who are the partners in your community who you will call to action?