Becoming “NFTY Old”
I know, 16 isn’t really all that old. After all, I’ve only been licensed for a few months and I’m not even able to vote yet. In “NFTY years”, it’s a scary thought to realize how old I actually am. There was something different planning JYG Kallah, stepping onto the bus, and seeing these teens that are at least 3 years younger. So there I was, making my way to the front of the bus as opposed to the back, starting conversation with some adult advisors about college and what not. Even the thought of college seemed so distant at that moment, but there I was. Now, I could go on and on about how amazing this weekend was as a JYG Co-chair planning and implementing this event for a record 53 teens. Each and every participant will provide you with the best first-hand testimonial to the magic of a weekend with NFTY Ohio Valley!
This weekend was incredible. The participants enjoyed creative, interactive services, learned awesome NFTY traditions, participated in various activities like Zumba and Gaga, discussed their best self, performed movie skits, and so much more!
It was one of the most rewarding experiences I have ever had watching the hard work of the JYG Committee pay off, and witnessing the newest OV members enjoying an unforgettable experience. From expanding their comfort zones through skits to meeting new friends to exchanging contact info, each teen participant left the event with many new friends and excited for the next NFTY event.
As rewarding as the weekend was, one of my favorite parts was the wrap-up and follow through. It meant so much to watch these participants exchange contact info and create community beyond the NFTY event. As the NFTY mentor, being added to the group chat of 10+ girls and hearing them talk endlessly about how amazing the weekend was, is so fulfilling. The moment they said they were coming back or attending camp this summer was when I knew the event was a huge success. I may be getting “NFTY old”, but after this weekend, these participants are keeping me young!
– Ashley Schlaeger (11th grade) from Valley Temple in Cincinnati, OH served as one of the JYG Co-Chairs.
That’s A Wrap – JYG Kallah 2016
Wow! Junior Youth Group Kallah 2016 was a filled with Judaism, learning, smiles, and memories at URJ Goldman Union Camp Institute. This year’s JYG Kallah had a record 53 teens in attendance!
As a JYG Co-Chair, NFTY-OV JYG Kallah began for me back in January with pre-planning. By the time I got to my synagogue (in March) to begin the journey to GUCI I (like many of the participants) was a little nervous for the event. However, upon entering into our van, I realized quickly that I had nothing to worry about! It was amazing to be surrounded by such excited individuals who were so willing to try make new friends and try new things! After our eventful five hour ride, which culminated in the singing of “99 Bottles of Milk on the Wall,” (yes it really did go from 99-1) we arrived at the gates of GUCI.
After dropping our bags off in our rooms, I introduced the Nashville teens to the other high school leaders helping to run JYG and then we began our opening icebreakers/mixers. The fun get-to-know-you games, creative non-traditional Shabbat service, and our NFTY 101 program, resulted in the teens immediately opening up and warming up to meeting one another. By the end of the first night everyone made several new friends.
On the second day of the event, we began with Shabbat services, featuring high schoolers and an advisor reading Torah beautifully. Then, we played a variety of sports during Chofesh (Free Time). I had the chance to participate in an awesome Ultimate Frisbee game which really exemplified what NFTY-OV is all about. Participants in grades 6-8 of all skill sets, many had never touched a Frisbee before, had fun learning and playing the game. At our Closing Circle on Saturday evening, one of the participants shared that this Frisbee game had been one of her favorite parts of the day because she had never played before and everyone was so nice and patient in teaching her how to play.
It was such a privilege to see all of these middle schoolers have such a positive first experience into what will hopefully be a long NFTY journey. That’s a wrap on JYG 2016 – “A Premiere to Your NFTY Career”!
– Stephanie Blumenthal (11th grade) from The Temple in Nashville, TN served as one of the JYG Co-Chairs.