By Deni Budman, NFTY Communications Vice President
As over 1000 Jewish teens, NFTY alumni, and youth engagement professionals gathered in Chicago last weekend, we did everything from singing together, exploring the city, and meeting new friends. NFTY Convention only happens every other year so we also take this time to honor the present and celebrate the future with a series of awards.
The celebration began at our Asefah, business meeting, the day before NFTY Convention where the NFTY General Board met to vote on key legislation. Included in this legislation, was a proposal to present our highest honor, NFTY Lifetime Membership, to Mike Fuld. Mike is the former NFTY New York Area (NAR) Senior Regional Director and has also been a vital member of our North American NFTY and URJ Kutz Camp communities. The legislation passed unanimously and the General Board was full of excitement as we called Mike in to present him with the award and sing Happy Birthday.
During the convention itself, Rabbi Rachel Sabath Beit-Halachmi was also honored with receiving a NFTY Lifetime Membership Award. She is not only a two-time NFTY North American board member, but she is a model of NFTY’s Thirteen Principles, especially those of Medinat Yisrael, The State of Israel, and Am Yisrael, The People of Israel.
Joe Lichtenstein, a sophomore from NFTY’s Mid-Atlantic Region (MAR), won the Wendy Blickstein Memorial D’Var Torah Competition with his D’Var titled “The Quiet Message.” He presented his winning D’var during our Friday evening Shabbat worship. Joe talked about Parashat Yitro through a lens of leadership and relationship building. He inspired our entire community with his words. Yasher Koach, Joe!
The winner of the Anselm Rothschild Memorial Song Competition was Jacob Rubin a senior from NFTY’s Southern Tropical Region (STR). He lead our entire NFTY community as we sang along to his song “ Tzedek” on Saturday morning at the conclusion of our worship service. His song embraced the idea of conquering one’s fears and also helping those around us who are in need – a true reflection of the spirit of our Convention and of NFTY. Mazel Tov, Jacob!
We are so proud of all of our honorees and winners! It was a joy to celebrate with all of you at NFTY Convention.