By Paige Mandelman, MeFTY President and Fall Conclave Chair
After months of planning, the day finally came, November 18, 2011, when 143 NFTY-Southerners would be driving arriving at Temple Israel in Memphis, TN. I was ready for the weekend to begin but nervous at the same time because being the chairperson of an event like this was something that I had never done before.
When I attend a NFTY event PLANNED BY SOMEONE ELSE everything seems so effortlessly put together. The programs are well-planned and run smoothly, services are organized and enjoyable, decorations spice up the atmosphere, and those leading the weekend—whether it be the Regional Board or a TYG for a conclave—appear to be on their “A-game” and stress free. When I heard that my TYG would be hosting NFTY-SO’s Fall Conclave I was so excited to be a part of making a memorable weekend for the rest of the region; nonetheless, I did not know all the planning that a successful event entailed.
Before Conclave, I had always seen the final production of an event. But after planning an event myself and after being behind the screen, I have gained a new appreciation and perspective for NFTY events and those who plan them. Each event is an opportunity to build leaders and to impart new wisdom to participants. The theme for the weekend was Soul to Soul: Walking in Memphis—honestly, people rarely think about concepts like their soul on a daily basis. I now understand all that goes into creating an event that runs smoothly; including all the meetings that you have to go to, all the decisions that have to be made, and all the obstacles to overcome. Once the weekend came, I was thrilled to see all our hard work pay off; I saw MEFTY underclassmen thrive as they led programs for the region, and I witnessed participants throwing themselves fully into the true soul of Memphis, TN, the “Home of the Blues.” I found it rewarding when people came up to me and said, “Hey, thanks for such an amazing weekend! This has been one of my favorite events!” Knowing people had such an enjoyable weekend made me have an even more enjoyable weekend.
After a weekend of exploring Soul and literally “Walking in Memphis,” I discovered and experienced firsthand within myself and others a passion for the essential “Shalom Ya’ll” that defines NFTY-Southern.