By: Adam Weingast, Religious and Cultural Vice President, NFTY NAR
Outside of NFTY, relationships between adults and teens can be rather one-sided. Whether it’s in politics, school, or extracurriculars, we often see adult leaders with the authority over their teen counterparts. In NFTY, however, adults and teens work together as equals to create a community where everybody feels comfortable – this is why the teen-adult partnership that takes place in NFTY so special and unique – we are truly partners. While NFTY is a teen-powered movement, the amazing accomplishments and milestones reached by the teen leadership would not be possible without the adult professionals by our sides. Through this partnership, teens are given the opportunity to see their visions come to life while learning and gaining experience from their adult advisors.
Earlier this year, NFTY New York Area (NAR) held our Temple Youth Group Leadership Assembly. As part of this event, I ran a breakout session with my rabbi, Beth Nichols, of Temple Israel of New Rochelle about how to plan a service. During the planning process, we each brought our own useful knowledge to the table. While she obviously had more experience creating services for a congregation and the different ways one can pray, I was able to bring a teen perspective (since the program was for teens). Through this teen-adult partnership, we created a program that taught the basics of service planning in a context that was easy for teens to understand and utilize. Along with constructing a stellar break out, both my rabbi and I came out of this experience with new knowledge of each other and of the topic of service planning.
As well as the individual benefits of NFTY’s teen-adult partnerships, this collaboration seems particularly important to today’s society. In a time when young people are doing everything they can to make a difference in the world, support from adults can make all the difference. Through the cooperation between teens and adults, NFTY members are empowered to find their own voice and confidence in today’s world. By giving us, as young people the opportunity to speak our minds when working with adults, or even have the chance to educate them, we’re empowered to step up and lead in all aspects of our lives.
Through my years in NFTY, I have gotten more experience working with adults than I ever could have imagined. My position has allowed me to reach out to several Jewish professionals for assistance and to be there for when the very same people need help. Coming out of my time in NFTY, I am confident that I, along with all who will come after me, will leave with the knowledge and insight needed to truly contribute to the world around me.