Blog  NFTY-TOR: Fall-ish Conclave Shmooze!

NFTY-TOR: Fall-ish Conclave Shmooze!

NFTY-TOR’s Fall-ish Conclave is over, but our lives as superpowered AvenJews is just beginning. In the spirit of the event’s focus on building community through our own values, the regional board decided to discuss the value of inclusion. Enjoy!

Shmooze 5To prepare for writing this, I Googled the definition of “inclusion.” I thought I would find something similar to the first definition (“the action of including a group”), but I was surprised to know that there was a second one to follow: “In biology, geology, or metallurgy: a body or particle recognizably distinct from the substance in which it is embedded.” I think that inclusion is important, but I also think that it is even more important for us to remember that everybody is unique and contributes to our community. Inclusion is recognizing what makes us different so we can celebrate what we have in common. In NFTY, every “body or particle” is “recognizably distinct” from every other, so inclusion cannot simply be welcoming the stranger and assuming that they can find their way among us Inclusion is not just about ensuring that everybody fits in; it is about ensuring that we find a perfect fit for everybody.

-Fred Traylor, President

I think that NFTY is the amazing place that it is because of the inclusive environment that it creates. I remember a senior coming up to me at her first regional event and saying how much she felt welcomed and accepted, even though she didn’t know very many people. Now she’s going to NFTY Convention! Obviously, teenagers are always going to have their friend groups, but in NFTY, those groups are always open to new members.

-Amanda Leventhal, PVP

Shmooze 4The mere fact that our communities and our world have to discuss the topic of inclusion baffles me. I would love to live in a world where there wasn’t even a question regarding equality and inclusion of any race, gender, sexuality, etc., but it looks like I won’t be getting that present for Chanukah! But, we as NFTYites are beyond capable of bringing about change. Whether it’s at school, social outings, even family gatherings, if you stand up for what’s right, you’re being that change. One day, I hope, we will create a world accepting of all mankind. This world is our playground, let’s let everyone play!!

-Sarah Kaplan, SAVP

At NVN in 2012 I was a nervous and shy freshman who knew next to no one in the region. I had been to Summer Kallah, but most of my friends weren’t going to this smaller event. However, by the end of that weekend, I found myself surrounded by people I was lucky to call my friends. The inclusive community I was welcomed into at NVN made me feel like I was at home, even among people I had met just hours before. Inclusion is about providing that sort of community for every freshman, sophomore, junior, and senior who comes to a NFTY-TOR event.

-Logan Kramer, RCVP

Inclusion can mean many different things. Dictionary.com defines it as “the act of including or the state of being included,” while Urban Dictionary defines it as…never mind. In NFTY, inclusion means making others feel welcome. If somebody is different, or acts differently, or feels differently, we still want to welcome them as part of our community. In fact, inclusion is so important in NFTY that this year, the NFTY Social Action theme is Shivyon|Equality. I hope that we, as NFTY-TOR, will take this to heart and work each and every day to make everyone feel welcome in our Kehilah, regardless of our differences.

-Josh Halff, MVP

Shmooze 2As a CVP, I’m often the most exposed to buzzwords of anyone on board. Hashtags? That’s me. So whenever there’s a term that trends throughout NFTY, I’m the first to pick it up and the first to get sick of it. But with “inclusion,” I definitely feel like we get their message right. The point of NFTY isn’t to be the coolest and most exclusive, or to pick and choose who we want to give the opportunity to have this amazing experience. We want NFTY to be an opportunity for everyone who wants to try it, and the word “inclusion” definitely fits that. Like at Fall, when we talked about radical empathy and the similarities between us, we try every day to make friends who have common interests. And in NFTY, that leads to friendships that last a lifetime. Everyone deserves that, so we’re gonna keep repeating “inclusion” while we make it a reality.

-Jason Taper, CVP

I feel at home when I am at synagogue. Whether it’s in the sanctuary or in the social hall, I feel absolutely safe there. And I would feel the same in any other congregation because we Jews include each other. We only make up 0.2% of the world population but that brings us closer together. It’s the kind of comfort that comes from not having to explain what Shabbat is and having a shared history. Inclusion to me is directly related to Judaism because it allows me to always be myself.

-Zoe Fëder, Blog Chair

See y’all at Winter Conclave in Houston!