by Allison Bourd
As I boarded my flight home from Veida, I felt rather lonely. Not because my plane buddy Fletcher had boarded three groups before me, but because I had just left a community for the last time – the community that inspired and helped me grow into the NFTY leader I am today.
NFTY North America is an incredibly unique NFTY experience. It humbles, teaches, reminds, and highlights everything that is so special about NFTY – the magic seeping through every person, program, and place. When I came to Mechina 2018, I had only four regional events under my belt; I was excited, intimidated, and definitely out of my league. I watched incredible leadership flourish and grow – it gave me the motivation to return to my region and use my knowledge and passion to become more active in my own NFTY leadership.
Reflecting on my final North American event, Veida 2020, it’s incredible to look back and see how I’ve changed and how NFTY has changed. I’ve felt the impact of generational leadership – how I’ve changed from watching the leaders to becoming the leader. And as bittersweet as it is to be the senior, leaving this Movement so soon, I’ve found genuine reward and pleasure in teaching future leaders, instilling this passion in those who come after me, just like those who had come before me taught and inspired me. It feels great to know that I’m paying it forward. As Kutz Camp Director Melissa Frey says, “Great leaders grow greater leaders”.
As I leave the world of high school Judaism – TYGs, NFTY events, etc. – I reflect on what these experiences meant to me and my Judaism. I found the answers in a masterclass on Jewish Philosophy at Kutz ‘19, where I along with my peers learned of several great Jewish philosophers. We were given time for individual reflection on the prompt ‘What philosophy do you live by?’. As I skimmed through my handy reference sheet of philosophers, I connected to Martin Buber – who believed that God exists in our relationships. Relationships are what make NFTY North America so powerful, I realized.
When regional leaders congregate in Wisconsin in February, it isn’t for the cold, or delicious camp food, lack of outlets or shower curtains, or even programming. It’s to build this community of leaders amongst leaders. We get to be a part of our own regional event, where we actively participate in a social action program, where Big Fun isn’t planned by us, where we get to enjoy the magic of NFTY how we began it – as participants. It’s an important reminder for us teens to appreciate the communities we help create as simply members, not regional boards or cabinets. It reminds us of why we began this journey in the first place. And as I leave it, I take all of my experiences with me.
I know that while my North American experience is over – wherever NFTY North America chooses to go next, with the next generation of leaders, that the NFTY magic will always flourish because we are what make it. Observe, learn, take back, return, and teach. It goes by faster than you think.
It’s a bittersweet goodbye.
Allison Bourd (she/her) is a senior living in San Diego who currently serves as the NFTY-SOCAL CVP. She is a proud alumna of Kutz ‘19 and has attended Mechina ‘18, ‘19, Convention ‘19, and Veida ‘20.