During President’s Day weekend, more than 150 teens from all 19 NFTY regions and 40 staff gathered at the URJ Olin Sang Ruby Union Institute (OSRUI) to take part in our NFTY Veida. Traditionally, Veida has been a weekend solely focused on the business aspects of NFTY, including Asefah to introduce resolutions and hear reports and elections for the NFTY North American Board. This group of teen leaders went far beyond rhetoric to chart a course for next year that will raise the bar for both the quality of NFTY programming and the number of teens NFTY will be reaching.
The business of NFTY centers on relevant, meaningful community that is making a difference locally, regionally and on the North American level. Gun Violence Prevention will continue to be a big campaign for NFTY this year and into next year, and it’s not all that we are doing. We spent Veida studying at length about what it means to be champions for racial justice, taking pride in learning how to better program for teens, and thinking about the real value of NFTY in each of their lives in ways we have never asked them to think before. We engaged in a spiritual experience involving movement and creative writing, creating niggunim, and thinking through our current events with a Jewish lens, all as a means of creating a more connected spiritual moment within our prayer services and celebration of Shabbat. We offered a series of mini-think tank sessions, modeling for our teens what it means to come together to learn and voice opinions about issues and ideas such as NFTY678, adult-teen partnerships, alumni engagement, and world Jewry.
The result of this Veida is that we have a stronger, more committed group of teens who are able to better understand what it is that NFTY does, how we do it, and what it means to them.
And, of course, we had a business meeting and elections, as well.
We are incredibly proud of all of the work of our teens in drafting these resolutions, in being so thoughtful on what their voice says and where they want to take NFTY to in the future.
We are also pleased to announce the 2016-2017 North American Board, whom we know will take NFTY to incredible heights in this next year.
President – Kathryn Fleisher (NFTY NEL) from Beth Israel – The West Temple, Cleveland, OH
Programming VP- Jordan Iserson (NFTY-NEL) from Temple Brith Kodesh, Rochester, NY
Social Action VP – Shelby Shoup (NFTY – STR) from Congregation Schaarai Zedek, Tampa, FL
Religious & Cultural VP – Matthew Sampson (NFTY – NEL) from Temple Anshe Sholom, Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Membership VP – Andrew Oestreicher (NFTY – NEL) from Temple Beth Zion, Buffalo ,NY
Communications VP – Deni Budman (NFTY – MAR) from Ohef Sholom Temple, Norfolk, VA
As NFTY’s Director of Learning and Innovation, I am beyond excited by all the new ways in which we are articulating the value of NFTY in our participants’ lives. I am deeply moved by each of these teens’ voices and opinions, their commitment to living Jewish lives, and their desire to make the world a better and more whole place for everyone in it. As adults, this is all we can ever hope for and it’s is how we plan to help encourage our next generation of leaders.
Rabbi Elizabeth S. Wood
NFTY Director of Learning and Innovation