By Matt Nussbaum, NFTY-PAR President
May is a very important month in the NFTY-PAR community, most likely the most important. May is the changing of the guard, the beginning and the end. NFTY-PAR’s first event of the new year, Haggigah/Maccabiah (or Hag/Mac), takes place in May. The event is our new member event in which current eighth graders from around the region are invited and twelfth graders are not. It is the first event without the seniors that graduated at Spring Kallah just one month earlier. The newly installed regional board plans the entire event in about the span of one month, which in and of itself is a spectacular feat.
Hag/Mac is a new beginning. The freshman who had no idea what NFTY was just one year ago are now beginning to make it their home as they become NFTY sophomores. They are applying for Cabinet positions and must now start to step up as knowledgeable leaders. Sophomores feel like the big guy on campus as they become NFTY juniors. They are the people who are most vocal about NFTY, have a large amount of the responsibilities, and some of them may even be on regional board. Juniors begin to reflect on their journeys as they have somehow in the blink of an eye become NFTY seniors. Every event is now the last of its kind. The people we grew with in the region have moved on to college. As the true role models of the region, it is hard to think about that and how everyone now looks at you the way you looked at the seniors at your first event.
The leads us to the eighth graders. The new NFTY freshman. The future. Every year we say goodbye to an absolutely amazing group of people with whom we have shared countless memories. However an often overlooked part of the end of the year is the fact that it signals the beginning. Every year we say hello to an absolutely amazing group of people with whom we will create countless memories. We say hello to eager, albeit nervous, new members. This is why successfully planning and executing the first event of the year in a little over a month is so mind-boggling. The event is the single key to continuing the cycle and making sure the region stays strong, and a group of seven people who have never worked together and most have never worked on an event at all come together to plan it wonderfully. By making intentional choices and planning we are able to consider all types of new members in hopes of creating a warm and welcoming environment for them to feel comfortable in. All done in one month.
However our work does not stop now that Hag/Mac is over. There are still many events to come. But we make sure that we have that welcoming feeling each event. This year we have created an Inclusion Task Force committee on our general board in an attempt to ensure we are doing all that we can to make sure new members feel as included as possible and our events are as accessible as possible.
In a little less than a year the cycle will repeat. Seniors will leave and eighth graders will come. But in the meantime there is a lot of work to be done.