By: Karen Kollins and Julia Guest
What do you get when you put together 900 energized amazing teenagers, 130 youth workers, five days of L.A. sunshine and a few celebrity sightings – NFTY Convention 2013!!! We were both so thrilled to participate as staff in NFTY Convention this past February.
NFTY Convention is the second largest gathering organized by the Union for Reform Judaism. Every two years close to 1000 participants come together to learn, pray, sing, dance, and meet new friends from all over North America. This year’s Convention theme focused on the idea of “Clout” or each person’s influence on the world around them.
NFTYites participated in workshops led by their own peers and staff and had the opportunity to spend a day at various non- profit organizations around Los Angeles many of which strive to promote social justice. We had lunch on the beach overlooking the ocean and played at Universal Studios. We heard from inspiring speakers like Talia Leman who started her own non-profit “Random Kid Organization” at just 10 years old, and met celebrities like Joshua Malina who has raised tens of thousands of dollars for Mazon to help feed the hungry. Even with all these great experiences, most participants will tell you that the best part about Convention was meeting new friends from different regions, Camps, and countries.
As staff, the most amazing part of the journey was feeling the power of bringing together so many amazing youth. Like Camp, Convention is a collective experience that is only as great as the people who are part of it with you. Watching members our own Camp George family participate in this transformative event was amazing. Coming together as a Camp George family on Shabbat – along with Rabbi Noam Katz, Zach Dolgin, Heather Steinberg, Zoe Yedwab, Jacob Machan, Ryan Leszner, and Darren Laser was great. It felt like being at Camp (and the California sunshine helped make it feel a bit like summer!). We even got to see a few Camp George alumni like Molly Okun, Rachel Saslove, and Jesse Paikin. Being together made it feel like home!
After a great five days we were ready to really come home – and ready to get some sleep. We look forward to being together again, with more Camp George friends, in two years at NFTY Convention 2015!