By Jason Rosenblum, NFTY-CWR Communications Vice-President
On October 28-30, over one hundred Jewish teenagers gathered together at URJ Camp Newman to participate in NFTY CWR’s Leadership Training Institute: Finding Your Roots. The weekend began with a Shabbat dinner and welcome by President Noah Schenirer and the rest of the regional board. After dinner, Membership Vice President Maya Grossman’s introduced several mixers, including “Squirt” and “Whose Secret is That?” Next came Shira – song session – and Shabbat services, planned by Religious and Cultural Vice President Jared Swezey-Gleason. The service highlighted what specific prayers meant to CWR members and ended with a great Phil Collins inspired Oseh Shalom. Afterwards, it was time for Programming Vice President Danny Robinow to help the region discover their ancestral roots in a program that uncovered the struggles that many Jews encountered as they came to America for a new life. These immigrants were pioneers to Jews all over the world by working to find the balance between keeping their roots and thriving in their new homes. They faced the everyday challenges of negotiating to stay religious or making enough money to survive the week. A beautiful closing circle ended the day.
Saturday morning began with an intriguing text program during breakfast that focused on the quotes of the most influential leaders of the last hundred years. After the meal, the region followed Jared around beautiful Camp Newman while the sun was still rising for a “walk and pray” service. The service included a moving ceremony where every NFTYite had the opportunity to hold and pass the Torah. The tour ended at the Pinat T’fillah for a great Torah service. Next came network time for each regional board member to go over their TYG leaders’ responsibilities and establish connections and friendships for a successful year. Along with network time were leadership tracks focusing on art, sports, and song-leading. The region ate lunch, followed by another batch of Maya’s mixers, like “toilet paper mummy wrap,” “Halloween costume fashion show,” and “zombie tag.” The mixers culminated with every regional board member getting a full whipped-cream pie in the face; a possible ban on food during Maya’s mixers from now on?
Social Action Vice President Talia had her time to shine while she led the region in a program that focused on human divides, specifically divides based on physical disabilities, gender, immigration, race, and socio-economic status. The experience introduced the region to this year’s NFTY social action theme, and allowed participants to focus on what they felt most passionate about. After some cake and a promo for upcoming NFTY events and programs, the Regional Board revealed the event T-shirt, designed by Treasurer Ben Kurzrock. A little early? Yes! But then the board revealed that everyone would be able to tie-dye their shirt during upcoming chofesh, or free time. Personal Nikayon, dinner, shira, and a beautiful Havdallah that Jared’s RCVP network put together ended Shabbat and began the new week.
Finally, it was time for Big Fun. It began as a casino-styled game night with blackjack, Texas-hold ‘em, Jelly Bean guess, board games, go fish, and tik-tak-toe with music in the background. After about an hour of gambling for tickets, “C-dubbers” (the nickname CWR members fondly call themselves) felt the need to wiggle. The rest of the night was an open dance and socializing extravaganza that left the region with a beat in their heads and a shake in their feet. Closing circle wrapped up the night and it was time for bed.
Sunday morning was a flurry of packing, breakfast, slideshow and NFTY notes designed by Communications Vice President Jason Rosenblum, a weekend sum-up, the Flying sCWRl newsletter, a quick reminder about Fallinter, and of course, the famous cheer. The weekend was a crazy, busy, fun, exciting, exhausting, whipped-cream filled, tie-dyed, and spectacular. The region had a blast at the first NFTY event of the year and the board had an amazing time creating Leadership Training Institute for the region.