5 Ways NFTY Teens are Helping the Reform Movement “Make it Big”

I have a dirty little secret. I’m a junkie, I’m addicted to NPR and LinkedIn. Today I’m going to confess my LinkedIn addiction, not so much for the networking but for the information digests they provide based on career interests. This week, I came across “5 Signs You’re Going to Make it Big One Day.” Thinking, “Who doesn’t want to make it big?” I gave it a gander.

In it, the author identified the following five traits:

  1. You’ve got a dream (a big one!)
  2. You’ve got a road map, but you’re prepared to take detours.
  3. You’re extremely curious.
  4. You’re a little cocky (just a little).
  5. You realize failure is a minor setback, not a game changer.

Last week, I spent the day with a group of about 150+ teens at URJ Kutz Camp as part of the NFTY regional board training program called Mechina. Mechina, the Hebrew word for preparation, is a week-long experience that brings together Jewish teens from across North America to learn how to be great leaders.

I was asked to Mechina to participate in a ½-day workshop on Israel engagement – not to lead, to participate. As a participant (and an observer), I was blown away by the fact that our teens demonstrated all five qualities listed above.

  1. They have big dreams. They feel strongly that Middle East peace could be achieved within 25 years.
  2. They have a roadmap. They believe it is their obligation and calling to work in their NFTY regions to bring understanding and knowledge of Israel.
  3. They are extremely curious. They demand from us and themselves more information, more tools, and more support to do their work well.
  4. Yes, they are a little cocky; perhaps it is the sort of cockiness that comes with youth. I believe it is also a confidence bolstered by the incredible support network that NFTY, URJ Camps, Israel Programs, and our congregations provide that lets them know they are supported, loved, and encouraged to be all they can be.
  5. They realize failure will happen. They all seem to instinctually embrace Darwin’s mantra that being adaptive is what will ensure survival. They are committed to pushing the Reform Movement to make the necessary changes so that it remains relevant to their generation. They know it won’t be easy, but they are revved up to try.

The question is this: Do we have the five traits to make it big one day? To accomplish everything we need to accomplish, we need to be bold, unafraid to fail, open to change, and perhaps a bit pushy on occasion. The URJ’s Campaign for Youth Engagement is not seeking fame or fortune for its own sake. Collectively, we are working to “make it big” one day because Judaism brings good and wholeness to our lives and the lives of the next generation. When I look at the young leaders in the pipeline, our future looks bright.


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Miriam Chilton

About Miriam Chilton

Miriam Chilton is the URJ's Vice-President of Youth; prior to this, she served as Director of Strategy, Operations and Finance for URJ Youth, Camp and Israel Programs. Miriam has a Master of Arts in Business Administration and Master of Science in Information Systems from Boston University and a Bachelor of Arts, Political Science from Ithaca College. When not out in the field trying to engage more young people, she is an active member of Temple Ner Tamid in Bloomfield, N.J.

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