By Jane Taves, URJ Central District Chair
I went to services on Friday evening because it was Shabbat and most Friday evenings I go to services. I knew that our congregation, Temple Beth El in Madison, WI, was hosting the NFTY Northern Regional Kallah this weekend, but I wasn’t really thinking about that as I set out for services. Imagine my feelings as I entered our sanctuary and found over 125 NFTYites there, and my realization that we were in for evening unlike our usual Shabbat experience.
We were having our monthly Shabbat Midor Lador service, with our own congregational T’fila Band. This service is always full of music and ruach, but never more so than that evening. NFTY songleaders joined our band, members of our Temple Beth El Youth Group led the opening and closing songs, and the energy and joy of the NFTYites colored the entire evening. Some moments that struck me:
- When the Rabbi, as he always does, asked us to take a minute to wish a “Shabbat Shalom” to those around us, and the high school girls behind me jumped right in and introduced themselves to us adults who were – true confession – huddling together in one of the front rows.
- Chanting the V’ahavta, hearing all their voices singing out about teaching these words to our children.
- Invited up to the front of the sanctuary to celebrate simchas that had taken place this month, one young woman said that her simcha was being at Kallah with her best friends.
- Seeing the joy the teenagers took in the music, complete with extra hand motions and sound effects.
This was certainly a group of bright, articulate, and committed youth.
Whenever I see our young people gathered together at a URJ event, whether it’s at Biennial, at camp, or this NFTY Regional Kallah, the same feelings overcome me: to see these teenagers taking such joy in their Judaism and in each other is truly a blessing. Of all the many activities that they can choose for their busy lives, the fact that they are choosing this one warms my heart and makes me optimistic for our future.