By Maya Levy, NFTY President
The RAC’s L’Taken Social Justice Seminars have been an inspiration to me ever since I heard of their existence. Social justice has always been a major part of my connection to Judaism and here was a four-day experience for young, Reform Jews to engage fully in tikkun olam (repairing the world).
In January, I attended my first L’Taken seminar, and it was everything I had hoped for – and more. There was power everywhere you looked and in every activity that was done. In every session, the participants were empowered to make change. They spent hours learning about the issues from inspiring professionals. Then, they used that knowledge to craft personal speeches to deliver to their congress people. On the final day of the seminar, they spent hours on Capitol Hill where they presented their speeches with conviction, passion, emotion, and (of course) power. They did all of this together, emphasizing the strength of partnership and collaboration.
Seeing hundreds of Reform Jewish teens ascend onto the Hill, working to make the world a place in which they want to live, was one of the most inspiring images I’ve seen in my year. It was a reminder of why I do what I do, and why we must support the young people of our movement. I had the pleasure of spending my day lobbying with a group of nearly 50 teens from Texas. It’s sometimes hard to be optimistic about the future, but while lobbying with these people, I felt the opposite. These teens were passionate; they had a strong grasp of the issues and were able to offer realistic solutions. As two NFTY-TORites stood in front of a senate staff member, told how their lives had been affected by gun violence, and encouraged the senator to pursue change, I was full of pride. This experience fortified what I already know – these are the leaders of today and the future, and I look forward to living in the world they create.
After a morning of lobbying, the L’Taken participants gathered for one last time to reflect on the experience. After many comments and stories, someone raised their hand and said something that so perfectly describes the power of L’Taken. “If there is something you don’t like, or something that angers you, YOU have to do something about it. And you do have the power to face it.” If everyone could recognize and believe that sentiment, I am confident that the world would be a better place. L’Taken showed 400 people that truth, and the world will be better for it. Teen power is undeniable and infinite, and I am proud to be a part of a movement that recognizes and uplifts this.