By Maya Levy, NFTY President
The seemingly eternal month of March has finally come to an end. This month was full of surprises beyond my wildest imagination, but I can confidently say that despite some disappointments, I am entering April stronger and wiser than I was 31 days ago.
NFTY has given me more in the past five years of my life than I can even begin to explain. It gave me lifelong friends, it gave me confidence, it taught me how to lead, and gave me a space where I was comfortable expressing my true self. And even amidst a global pandemic, and event cancellations, NFTY has not stopped giving. In the last three weeks, NFTY gave me and hundreds of teens exactly what we needed in these uncertain times.
It gave us a safe space, a place to maintain our friendships and build new ones, a time to laugh and joke and smile like everything is normal. NFTY taught me about resilience and dedication and showed me the true definition of community (or, at least the “NFTY community”). Our community is not defined by the physical place, it is defined by the people. The time spent together on Zoom; in Friday night services, in learning, in social time; felt as holy as the time we spend together at camps or congregations. When 100, or 60, or even just 20 NFTYites enter a Zoom room, we create undeniable magic through kind interactions, genuine care, and pure ruach (spirit).
From NFTY these past few weeks, I’ve learned resilience. The need to cancel our regional events this year was devastating. It could have crushed us and brought us to a standstill, but instead, our NFTY leaders adjusted, adapted, and excelled. In a matter of days, Shabbat services were planned, elections were organized, Havdalah was coordinated. Baking tutorials, exercise classes, arts and crafts, movie nights, NFTY March Madness, and more materialized before my very eyes. It was more than I ever dreamed, but I can’t say I was shocked. This is NFTY. We have not been immobilized by this disaster, rather the opposite. We have come together to do the work that is needed of us, and, if I do say so myself, we have done a phenomenal job.
As always, I am immensely proud of this movement. This situation is really hard, but NFTY (and all of you), have taught me the value of community, inspired me to stay positive, and helped me to keep moving forward. This will pass, and we will make it out stronger than ever. And until then, you are always welcome in our NFTY community, at services every Friday at 8:30 PM EST and to our series of regional and North American virtual programming throughout the month of April. I look forward to seeing you then and am excited for you to experience our NFTY magic.