Joey Nutinsky is a NFTY-PAR Alumnus and former President of NFTY-PAR.
When I was in high school, NFTY was my life. I made the decision early on to abandon any hopes of a social life inside school and devoted all of my time to the wonderful opportunities in store for me in NFTY-PAR. I counted down the days to each meeting, event, and reunion almost compulsively. My senior year I was honored to hold the position of President within the Pennsylvania Area Region, which only strengthened the strong hold that NFTY had on me.
I happily decided to return as a staff member at NFTY-PAR’s Fall Kallah a few weeks ago. I was anxious prior to arriving that I would not be able to handle returning to a place that I used to call home. I feared that in the two years since I was a member, my region would be so different; I thought my home would be almost unrecognizable.
And it was.
I’m not proud of my board for the changes we brought to the region, but for the attitude that change is possible. The physical changes we implemented are merely temporary, for after a few years the new leaders in the region will come up with better solutions to old problems. However, the idea of constant change, constant improvement, is something so unique and something I saw in full action at Fall Kallah. I witnessed emerging leaders in the region try new ways to engage their peers, new ways to quiet a room, new ways to teach an old lesson, and much more. Some of these new methods worked amazingly, and some of them failed. But every time something new occurred it was due to a brave leader going out on a limb and trying it. That, right there, is the magic.
I believe it’s this constant evolution that is responsible for so much of NFTY’s success. As the generations of teens come through, our means of achieving our goals must also update. It was great to see this evolution happen in a more structured setting at Asefah where the region’s elected leaders passed thoughtful and positive resolutions. It’s always great to see the fun atmosphere of the weekend temporarily turn so serious while everyone works hard to debate the concrete changes to the region. But the best changes I saw had nothing to do with amendments and resolutions. It was the participant who wrote a program for the region (what they call a ‘program intern’) for the very first time draw such extreme emotions and arguments during her program. It was the group leader trying a new mixer that they learned from a sports team at home, which caused two participants to bond. It was even the girl who baked cookies for the service auction and it was only her second event.
Every time a participant tries a new tactic at an event, the region gets stronger. Even more, the legacies we leave aren’t the literal changes we bring, but the mindset that change is possible and encouraged. As long as people keep trying new things, NFTY will be alive and well.