Lauren Stock is a member of NFTY Texas Oklahoma and president of her Temple Youth Group, SHFTY, at Temple Shalom in Dallas, TX.
Passion is one thing. It changes a little bit when you are thrust into a room with over 4,000 chairs and enough people to fill them. But it becomes something entirely different when the majority of those people share several very similar passions. We are passionate about change. We are passionate about leadership. We are passionate about our future. And we are passionate about Judaism.
Like many people here, I am related to rabbis, cantors, and Jewish leaders. And the more people I meet, the more I realize, we are all connected. You may have been my cabinmate at camp or come from my region, but you may also be a congregant at my cousin’s temple, my rabbi’s sister, or my best friend’s Sunday school teacher. Everyone here has some connection to another, some way to show that we are one Jewish family.
It is nearly overwhelming to hear how inspiring everyone at Biennial is. Everyone has a story; something that brought them to Orlando, Florida today. These people are living proof that we can make a difference by taking action for the things we care about. We feel inspired to be together because each person has an inspiring story to bring to the table Each person is doing something to make a difference, whether that is in the lives of a few people or the entire Jewish community.
- Audaciously Hospitable
Despite being perhaps the most commonly used phrase here, “audacious hospitality,” it cannot be used too much when describing the people here. People here are excited to meet each other, learn from each other, and open their lives to each other. They are audacious in ruach and hospitable in their hearts.
This may seem like the most simple and self explanatory, but yet there’s something more to it. These Jewish people are not just Jewish. They are “Jews by choice,” and that doesn’t mean they were not born Jewish, it means that every day when they wake, they chose to live a Jewish day and live a Jewish life. From the minute I got on my shuttle Wednesday morning, I knew this was going to be a group of people unlike anything I had ever experienced before. The passengers on this shuttle included myself, my youth group advisor, a woman who had just returned from a year in Israel, a rabbinical student, a man whose children are currently on NFTY in Israel, a NFTY employee, a URJ Kutz Camp alum, a rabbi’s wife, a Tzedek America alum, and a temple president. And yes, this is true. These people I just named and many others are Jewish. They are committed to Judaism and to the Jewish people.
What are some words to describe myself at the URJ Biennial? Blessed. Proud. I am so privileged to be here, representing some of the things that make me, me. I represent Temple Shalom, my youth group SHFTY, NFTY-TOR, the URJ Kutz Camp, and other groups I call my communities. I am blessed to be here this week, and proud to call myself a URJ teen.”