Fletcher Block, NFTY President
On March 7, the NFTY General Board met to participate in our annual mid-term Asefah to elect our next NFTY North American Board and celebrate all of our successes in a year full of unprecedented challenges. Our amazing NFTY leaders across North America have put tireless effort into building community and have stayed resilient, to say the least, over this past year. Since summer 2020, NFTY Regional Boards have hosted over 250 virtual NFTY experiences with over 1400 unique teen participants.
Last summer, with the partnership of our Core Team and many, many focus groups, we worked to develop and roll out NFTYx. NFTYx is our new platform-based event model that opens the space for Reform Jewish teens all across North America, regardless of experience, to run and host events and programs. NFTYx is hosted on RJ on the Go, and when safe, will also encompass local, in-person events.
With NFTYx, we’ve learned how to expand our reach. A year ago, most of us saw NFTY as a community formed only through seeing each other at just a few gatherings throughout the year. Now, in addition to traditional weekend events, NFTYites are coming together for movie nights, themed Shabbat Services, game nights, leadership development, Mixer Mondays, Havdalah, presentations from special guests, and so much more. For more of our teens than ever, NFTY is more than just a few weekends away from home, instead, NFTY is the best part of our every day.
This past year, NFTY has partnered with many different organizations to connect with our teens in new and exciting ways. A highlight of the year has been partnering with a variety of social justice organizations. With these groups, NFTYites have worked hard to make differences in their local communities and the world.
In February, NFTY was excited to host NFTY Convention 2021, our first ever virtual NFTY Convention. Throughout the weekend, over 330 teens joined us to Connect, Learn, and Serve. NFTY Convention was such a powerful weekend. NFTY Convention was made extra special because of a deep intentionality to connect, despite the fact that it was virtual. Every teen at NFTY Convention genuinely wanted to be there, which uplifted all of our programming.
Teen leadership is flourishing in NFTY. In addition to each region’s spectacular Regional Board, many regions are working with expanded cabinets and committees of leaders to strengthen their communities in many different ways. Throughout the year, over 100 teens have been involved with URJ Fellowships and over 80 teens have been involved with NFTY taskforces. After NFTY Convention, interest in being part of these groups skyrocketed, and we are excited to welcome even more teens to them.
As we close out our year, Regional Boards will be electing their successors and hosting Spring Kallot, among many other fun events. In addition, we will be looking towards the future by gearing up for in-person programming by connecting with synagogues and Temple Youth Groups. We are committed to finishing strong and making these next few months as fulfilling as ever for our teens.
Moving into the future, we are excited to implement more leadership development opportunities, connect even more with local leaders, and hopefully to be able to meet safely in-person, while also using what we’ve learned this year to make NFTY a community that isn’t here or there, as our NFTY Cheer says, “it’s everywhere”.
It has been an honor to serve NFTY over the past 9 months as President, and I am ecstatic to continue learning, growing, and serving this kehilah kedosha, holy community, for the rest of my term, and beyond.