Sophie Forstein is a senior in NFTY-SAR.
How can you sum up all the feelings that you have about NFTY? I find that to be an impossible task. To put four years of experiences into a 90 second speech was something I knew I could not do. Each year, I would watch the seniors at Spring Kallah as they would give their final senior speeches, most of the time not being able to get their words out because they were crying so hard. Each year I thought “oh, I have so much time until I have to do this”.
That was until I was sitting in my room one week before my final event, realizing that, in just a few short days, I would be the one giving my final goodbye to NFTY. I took out some paper and stared at it blankly for a good 20 minutes, trying to think of how I could summarize all that NFTY means to me.
With no luck, I figured I’d ask my family for some help, just to give me an idea on how to begin. My sister, also a member of NFTY SAR, looked at me and said, “Soph, you have to write a song!” I thought about the idea for a little while, not sure if that was how I wanted to wrap up my NFTY career. After all, I had been singing throughout my entire NFTY journey as songleader, so I wanted to do something different.
The more I thought about it, the more I realized it was different. I had found one of my talents and passions while in NFTY and figured that turning my senior circle moment into a song would be the perfect way to go. I sat down with my guitar and began to think of everything that NFTY was to me. One of the first things that came to mind was what the acronym NFTY represents. North American Federation of Temple Youth is the formal NFTY name. However, NFTY has also been said to stand for “Never Forget These Years.” Writing the rest of the song felt like a blur because, after finding the melody to that one line, everything else just came flooding onto the paper. In less than 30 minutes I had finished my senior circle speech.
As the weekend rolled around I prayed that it would go by as slowly as possible, but as Sunday morning arrived so many feelings came pouring though my mind. I listened to my friends as they got up to talk about what NFTY meant to them- some giving advice, some giving shout-outs, and some thankfully throwing in a little comic relief. Before I knew it, it was my turn. I grabbed my guitar, took a breath, thought to myself “keep it together”, and began to sing. I have song-led many times before, but this was different. I looked around the circle while singing and saw people wrapping their arms around each other to swaying to the music. I saw people crying, I saw my best friends looking at me and knew they were proud of me, and I saw my mentors and remembered that I wouldn’t be where I was without them. The last few lines meant the most, and as I sang them I choked back the tears. “This family we have will always stay. We’ll never forget these years.”
As I finished the song I was overwhelmed with cheering throughout the room and even received a standing ovation, which made me realize that in fact I had decided to do what I was meant to do for senior circle, and my song had made an impact on others. There is still no way to put all of my feelings about NFTY into a song, but when I want to, I know I can always go back, listen, and remember everything that was rushing through my head as I sang. My time as a NFTY participant may be over, but I will never be over NFTY. I will hold onto it for the rest of my life, and this song will always be a reminder to me, and hopefully to many other NFTYites, now and in the future, to Never Forget These Years.
View the chords to Sophie’s song, “Never Forget These Years”.