By Rachel Goldberg
NFTY-SWites wait weeks and count down the days until they finally get to say, “LTI, here I come!” The first NFTY-SW event of the year, hosted by Temple Chai in Phoenix, Arizona, started wonderfully! All anyone heard were the screams and laughter of teens running to see their friends as they walked off the bus. The giant smiles and millions of photos continued throughout the weekend as NFTYites led “to infinity and beyond” in this Disney theme inspired event.
The night came to a heartwarming close as we joined together to sing the Sh’ma and Haskiveinu led by Head Songleader, Zach Kaplan. Friday morning had a story book beginning with a mixer by Membership Vice President, David Siegal. The momentum kept on going with a guest speaker and a program on the topic of immigration written by Social Action Vice President, Lizzie Stein. After a quick lunch break, the leaders gathered in their business attire for the annual General Board Meeting during which the constitutional amendment to do away with the “no vote” was ratified. During the meeting, President Mat Sherman announced the new member of the general board, Miranda Rosen, who is now the first ever NFTY-SW Ruach (Spirit) Chair. After the long meeting, each participant went joined with their peers for Network Time while those who are not on board went to learn about the network that suits them best. TCTY songleaders led Shabbat services followed by a yummy dinner and a very energetic song session. After a long day, NFTYites returned to their host homes for another night of bonding, and maybe some sleep!
Religious and Cultural Vice President, Naomi Movshovich did a beautiful job leading Saturday morning services including entertaining pick-me-up quotes from memorable Disney classics. Thanks to the help of the songleaders and Torah readers, the morning moved along with ease into the Torah study program about fulfilling promises. Then, participants continued their journey through the lovely land of Disneyland, with a program modified by Programming Vice President, Dori Singer. After learning about the magic of different leadership skills, NFTYites choose to participate in a variety of diverse workshops taught by advisors and regional board members.
Once everyone gathered to close Shabbat with Havdallah, the buses arrived and everyone was off to Great Skate for a night of roller skating! From neon clothes, singing on the bus, and even skating backwards, needless to say, it was a memorable night! We finished the evening with another great friendship circle.
Bright and early in the morning host families dropped off their kids and all the suitcases as the tearful goodbyes began. The magical weekend in Disneyland was about to end. With a moment of silence in memory of September 11th, and one final friendship circle to close the event, our out of town friends bid their farewell and soon the Phoenix NFTY- SWites left for the dreaded return to reality. NFTY- SW truly is a magical place for everyone who joins and nothing can replace all the amazing friendships and memories that are created.