By Zachary Herrmann, NFTY President
This past weekend I traveled to JCA Shalom in Malibu, California for an amazing social justice kallah with NFTY SOCAL. From the first mixer of the night to departing on Sunday morning, I was absolutely floored by the engaged community that surrounded me. The teens at this NFTY event came because they had a sincere interest in social action and were looking for opportunities to get informed on new ways they could give back to their communities. I am confident that every teens at this event walked away with a new idea for how they could fulfill their responsibility in repairing the world.
The NFTY SOCAL Board has a such an astounding relationship with their region. When one of the board members approaches the mic, the room is already going silent. They’ve worked hard to develop connections that make people want to hear what they have to say. Because the region trusts their board, they were able to do so much more in their programming. When the board encouraged them to take a risk and make their voices heard in these programs, the teens took it to heart. Participants in SOCAL love their community because they know they how safe it is for them to really be heard.
From programs on criminal justice reform, to panels with different activists from the L.A. community, there were opportunities for every type of NFTY teen to get involved. The SAVP, Kevin Weinberg accessed an abundance of topics during these 3 days to make sure that every teen was able to find an issue they already cared about as well as one that they might have never thought twice about before this weekend. NFTY SOCAL knew the facts behind the issues our world faces. Because they had taken the time to get informed, discussions were able to go further and allow for really impact and steps in the right direction. Teens were pleased to share their knowledge and the uninformed were not afraid to ask for more.
I loved having a chance to spend time with the teens of the Southern California region. Their ambitions are high and I am certain they have the drive to achieve them. This event was a chance for participants to open up about why they stood for what they did. The abundance of love and support in every age from staff to freshmen made it clear why SOCAL takes so much pride in their regions culture. I hope that their continued efforts can ripple throughout all of our regions as we strive to find new ways to engage teens in social justice on all fronts.