By Cyle Ginsberg, NFTY Ohio Valley
At NFTY Convention, I connected with old friends, made new ones, explored Dallas, learned with hundreds of other Jewish teens, and formed a community unlike any other. But the coolest and most rewarding experience happened on Friday night, when I had the opportunity to songlead for the entire Convention.
Last school year, I attended two NFTY Nashir events where Alan Goodis taught me and dozens of other teenage Jewish song leaders (ranging from beginners to veterans) the skills we would need to be successful. This is where my songleading career really got started. Since then, I have songled at several NFTY events, my synagogue, URJ Heller High, and – my home away from home – URJ Goldman Union Camp Institute (GUCI). When I was told that there would be an opportunity for me to participate in helping to lead hundreds of my peers in song at the largest NFTY event of the year, I was ecstatic. I have always loved leading services, so when I filled out the form requesting to help, I put Friday night as my top choice. A few months later I received an email saying that I would be leading Shalom Rav and Aleinu.
Before I knew it, I was boarding a plane from Indianapolis to Dallas-Ft. Worth with my guitar in tow. When we arrived, I immediately went to rehearsal where we went over the details of the service and I got to meet the other songleaders. A few hours later, the service was starting. When I walked onstage, I looked to my left and saw Alan, the man who taught me virtually everything I know about songleading, and I had this sense of coming full circle. In November of 2017 I went to my first Nashir where he taught me the basics of songleading. A year and a half later, here we were songleading at NFTY Convention.
Together, we led over 1,000 people in the prayer for peace. The best part? They didn’t really need me. The best type of songleading happens when you’re not really leading at all. This holy community of Jewish changemakers knew the words, they knew the tune, all they needed was a few smiling faces to stand on stage. I was happy to be one of the songleaders filling that role. To stand on stage in front of so many Jewish teens, advisors, speakers, and more and lead a song I grew up singing at my summer camp less than 20 minutes from my house was unlike anything else I have ever done. As we came together to pray for peace for the Jewish people and for the entire world, I couldn’t keep the smile off my face.
Cyle Ginsberg is a sophomore from Indianapolis, Indiana. He serves as the Programming Vice President of the Indianapolis Federation of Temple Youth (IFTY) at Indianapolis Hebrew Congregation, and is the head songleader of NFTY Ohio Valley. Cyle is an alum of URJ Goldman Union Camp Institute and URJ Heller High.