Taylor-Paige Guba is a 12th grader from Indianapolis Hebrew Congregation and she is currently serving as the Religious and Cultural Vice President for NFTY Ohio Valley.
As a Religious and Cultural Vice President (RCVP), I have seen the reactions of people when they hear the title of my position. For some NFTYites, the RCVP may be considered a rabbi in training, a person deeply devoted to God, someone who is an expert in all things Jewish.
But as a person, I do not really embody those descriptions. Contrary to popular belief, an RCVP does not need to be super religious or know Hebrew or be good at reading Torah or believe in God or go to/like services.
So I have decided to put together a few tips for those aspiring to bring a rich spiritual experience to their peers, but fear they may not be qualified.
- Hebrew is great. If you can speak it, good for you. If you cannot, it is no big deal. Get a prayer book and practice saying the prayers in front of your friends or parents to get comfortable with them. Maybe even learn a little about the language (did you know that the word for “fish” is pronounced “dog”?) I know a few words here and there, and what I do not know I ask Rabbi Google. That has worked out well for me. Another awesome resource is MyJewishLearning.
- Playing guitar is a great skill. But I do not play guitar. And I do not need to. I have a wonderful network of songleaders who bring their voices, instruments, and talent to each event, so I get to focus on my passion: the service itself. As long as you have the ability to work in partnership with songleaders, you are good to go.
- The on paper job description of an RCVP is pretty simple: create meaningful spiritual experiences for other NFTY-ites. And while it is important to support your home congregations, going to every single congregational event or service is not necessary. In fact, it can put a lot of stress on you and take away time from planning for events and doing homework.
- I went to Israel, and that was amazing! But plenty of great RCVPs have never been before, it is not a prerequisite. It is an amazing experience, and I highly recommend getting there at some point in your life, but some people just don’t have the opportunity to go in high school, and that is fine.
- BE PASSIONATE!!!! No matter what you are doing, whether it be a NFTY board position or something in school, commit yourself. It is amazing what can be done by just sitting with someone spit balling crazy ideas, because at some point, you find something that works. And go to regional board members and advisors and TYG Presidents and ask to do more. Often, RCVPs are underutilized at a local level, but you can change that. I highly suggest bugging the regional RCVP until they give you something to do at a regional event, because it is very thrilling to see a program come to life for 100 people. Do research, ask for help, edit multiple times, and have fun!
So for all of you out there wishing to be an RCVP, struggling with the position or just wanting to be more involved in the religious and cultural side of our youth movement, YOU GOT THIS.