By Lauren Stock, NFTY Convention 2017 Fellow
In The Wizard of Oz, Dorothy’s world in Kansas begins in black and white; the minute she steps foot in Munchkin lands, her world turns to color. She takes it in for a moment and she whispers to Toto, “We must be over the rainbow!”
When I attended my first NFTY North American event, NFTY Convention 2015 in Atlanta, GA, the color of my world was beautifully enhanced. I traveled over the rainbow.
At NFTY Convention 2015, color burst into my world in all of the things that I expected to do: I met new people, I made new connections, I learned, I had fun, I experienced things in a way I never had before, and I traveled over the rainbow. I thrived off of the workshops, services, programming, and socials- all the things I expected. But what I did not expect was to meet one of my very best friends, who I have now shared two wonderful summers with. I did not expect to connect with my greatest role model and learn amazing and inspiring skills and ideas. I didn’t expect to laugh and smile half as much as I did. And I didn’t expect to fall in love with something that I didn’t even know was out there.
NFTY Convention taught me what it means to “feel energy.” It taught me the power of Reform Jewish youth. It empowered me to try new things with my region, TYG, and self. And most importantly, it opened the door to a world I didn’t know I needed.
When I was leaving Convention, I felt like Dorothy with the ruby red slippers standing in Munchkin Land with the yellow brick road sprawling in front of me. I took a deep breath and stepped onto that road. I have since taken that road on a life-changing journey through a crazy amount of NFTY-TOR and TYG events, a summer at the URJ Kutz Camp, the URJ Biennial in Orlando, NFTY Veida at URJ Olin-Sang-Ruby Union Institute (OSRUI) in Oconomowoc, WI, NFTY Mechina at the Kutz Camp, and a second summer at Kutz. The Emerald City is looming in front of me, and it looks a lot like Chicago.
To me, NFTY Convention began as a fantasy world, and is now, once again, only a couple months away. It is excitement. It is energy. It is connections and inspirations. It is love, smiles, laughter, and happiness. It is friendship. It is truly something special.
So strap on your ruby red slippers and head on your yellow brick road, just over the rainbow.
See you in Chicago, munchkins!