As summer kicks off, we say goodbye (for now) to our amazing Class of 2019 seniors. Maya Evers reflects on her time in NFTY-MAR and what the community means to her.
Senior year is incredible, emotional, and chaotic. It is the year of college apps, prom, graduation, and goodbyes. I cannot believe it’s over; it flew by in the blink of an eye. The nature of this year allowed me to really reflect on my past. When a college essay asked me to describe a community that I have been a part of and what brings that community together, obviously my Jewish community was first thing that came to mind. In comparison to other groups I am part of, my home in Judaism has played a special role in shaping me into the person I am today.
When I was younger I was very shy and afraid of expressing myself, but my warm and welcoming Jewish community eventually encouraged to come out of my shell. Across Reform, Conservative, and Orthodox Judaism, the entire Jewish community has faced a lot of challenges in the many years of its existence, yet we remained strong. The hardships we have faced as a people continue to unite us and bring us together. Even in the face of adversity, we have always chosen to celebrate life’s blessings with food, music, and dancing. This strength and love of life gives me the inspiration to keep moving forward, with the faith that in the end everything will be okay. For the past six years, I have been a part of NFTY Mid-Atlantic Region (MAR), a lovely group of Jewish youth trying to make the world a better place.
When I first started attending NFTY events, I was overwhelmed by the universal enthusiasm of my peers. There were so many people, and so much seemed to be happening all at once. Thankfully some of the older kids, including my sister Mariel, showed me fun traditions and pass-downs that made me feel welcome. Over time, I learned how important these little traditions are, and was even able to pass them on to the next generation of NFTY-MAR members, which happens to include my little sister Magen. At our Spring Kallah, the upperclassman had an incredible opportunity to partner with underclassman during Saturday morning Shabbat services to create new traditions, and in turn, new friendships. I was thrilled to see all the laughs and new ideas that were formed when we were put together to achieve a common goal. I passed down a fun tradition, the triangle jump dance, to Max Leblang, Elyse Seldowitz, and Jonathan Lerdau. It was a blast creating something new with them and it felt very special to “pass the torch” onto them as they continue to grow as leaders within the Jewish community.
As graduation approaches, it is sad knowing that this was my last year with NFTY-MAR. However, I am confident I will see great things come from my time here. My experience in NFTY is something that I will hold dear to my heart forever, and I thank all the youth professionals and my peers for making my time extraordinary. The end is surely bittersweet, but I know the future holds a lot more for all of MAR, NFTY, and the entire Jewish community.