Throughout the course of the weekend at NFTY-NAR’s Spring Kallah, we asked our high school seniors to share some of their thoughts around what it means to be a “Human of NFTY.” Below are three responses from Barak Stockler, Jen Gordon and Jared Fischer, who are members at Congregation Kol Ami in White Plains, NY.
Also, be sure to check out the video from members of our community answering our question, “What makes you a human of NFTY?”
Explaining what it means to be a “Human of NFTY” is a hard task; words cannot fully explain the range and depth of emotions NFTY evokes in a person. Being a “Human of NFTY” means many things, but most importantly, it means being part of a community.
I joined NFTY in the beginning of this year, about a week before Fall Kallah. This year has been both my first and last year and it has been absolutely amazing. Before fall Kallah I had 3 friends in NFTY, the 2 kids from KATY with whom I was attending Kallah and Zach Gordon, who I met the week earlier.
Going to Fall Kallah was awkward until I got on the bus and was welcomed with enthusiasm. Everyone on the bus was happy, energetic, and kind. I felt right at home, and during fall Kallah this feeling was only reinforced. I entered fall Kallah with 3 friends and left with more than I could possibly count.
I was so enchanted by fall Kallah that I decided to continue my NFTY experience. I went to a couple of events before Winter Kallah that were fantastic. But when Winter Kallah came I was overjoyed. Instead of getting on the bus anxious and confused, I entered confidently and with warmth. I was not only once again welcomed back into the community, but I was able to welcome everyone around me as well. I felt like a true “Human of NFTY.” Because of this, Winter Kallah was amazing. And during my next event, Albany Advocacy Day, I was able to step up as a leader and help run the event; I was able to make many more friends doing this.
What I have come to understand is that the structure and content of NFTY’s events build an atmosphere that makes it easy to create friendships with people on very deep levels. People become great friends almost instantly. Because of this dynamic, you feel entranced during NFTY events. You are walking around, doing work, praying, sleeping, eating, and hanging out with people who you view as special to you, and you are special to them.
This is why I think being a “Human of NFTY” boils down to one thing: magic. Being a “Human of NFTY” requires that you become a magician. A person that with one hug, one wave, one handshake, can create a friendship that will last a lifetime. A person that is passionate, comfortable and confident. A person that creates an atmosphere of acceptance and warmth. A person that can engage, challenge, learn, inspire, and teach his or her peers. And most importantly a person that can love. Because the magic that happens at NFTY events, the connections that people make and the friendships that people form would not happen without love.
I went to my final Kallah less than a week ago today and I can say that I used the word “love” very often during the weekend. The friends that I made this year are some of the closest I have ever had. There are very few places on this earth where you can see a bunch of 18 year olds crying and hugging each other. The emotions NFTY creates are some of the strongest I will ever feel and I am very thankful for it. I can’t even imagine the kind of person I would be if I had been in NFTY for four years rather than just one. But regardless I can proudly say that I love my NFTY friends. I am a magician. I am a human of NFTY.
Its so hard to describe what a “Human of NFTY” is in just a few short paragraphs. A “Human of NFTY” is thoughtful, passionate, inspiring and inspired, willing to question and ready to listen. A “Human of NFTY” is not one human but a collection of humans; we are an unbreakable community, and we just keep growing.
In the past few months I have gone from being completely unaffiliated with NFTY to fully immersed, leading workshops and even getting to assist with song leading this past Spring.
I started my first event, Fall Kallah, being led in workshops and song and prayer by my soon-to-be best friends and as incredible a time as I had at Fall Kallah, I knew I needed more. Come Winter Kallah I led a workshop on meditation through music and at only my second event was given the opportunity to speak to my peers and teach them something new and in turn, learn a wealth of new things from my very thoughtful friends.
I spent all year going to more local events, spending every weekend with my new NFTY friends. I started to forget I had only met them this past Fall. I quickly melted into the grander picture of a “Human of NFTY” and it was one of the most effortless transitions into a group of people, especially one as close knit as this, I had ever made.
Finally, Spring Kallah came and song leaders reached out to me to have me help song lead a few songs during the weekend, something I had dreamed of doing and longed to try since I began NFTY just that past Fall. The progression of participant to leader in a span of just a few short months, among other characteristics is what truly makes me a “Human of NFTY” and a proud member of this beautiful community. I thank my lucky stars every day I fell into this community, these conversations, these opportunities and these friends, because of it I can proudly say, I am a human of NFTY.
I started NFTY the fall of my senior year. I honestly had no idea what do expect in regards to how NFTY could possibly shape my Jewish values or acquaint me with teens that I would only see several times a year but somehow become best friends. I was excited for my first event but for reasons mostly outside of NFTY’s control I didn’t enjoy myself all that much. I came back in the winter to try and mend the unfulfilled relationship. Boy would I regret everything if I hadn’t done that. I quickly became friends with a lot of people and best friends with many.
The thing about NAR that impresses me the most is their ability to instill important, strong, and open minded Jewish values in each and every person without making it seem like they are trying to shove it down your throat. Each person is able to take from their time in NAR what they find most important to them and a long the way make amazingly close friends in such a short amount of time. I can honestly say that NFTY has made my life better. The new friendships I’ve made will last my lifetime. Without repeating myself again I feel an obligation to say thank you to everyone in NFTY NAR who have dedicated their time and skills to make the Jewish community a better place.