By Alyson Yawitz, Molly Thal, Shira Morosohk, Emma Compton, and Jackie Heymann – NFTY-MV Social Action Committee
Today, we all logged onto Facebook to find that there was a certain video which had been shared numerous times. Looking back a few months, we can remember the idea for this video just being tossed out during a meeting with one of youth group advisors, Jodi Miller. The idea to make a NFTY Missouri Valley It Gets Better video was an instant hit with all of us. We knew that we wanted to do something with the action theme, Human Divides, so not before long we had begun to shape the entire social action program around this video, Lesbian, Gay Bisexual, Transgender (LGBT) rights and the importance of treating everyone with equal respect. We found that not many people know of the injustices the LGBT community face and we decided that this was our opportunity to make a difference.
During the initial planning stages we were so fortunate to have the Religious Action Center (RAC) reach out to our region and offer to help. Over the course of the next couple months, Isaac Nuell, the RAC’s conference planner; and Noah Baron, a legislative assistant; both helped immensely by providing us with more resources than we knew what to do with and reading over the programs. After a long program writing process filled with numerous changed we were able to have the program ready just in time but not without the help of the two of them, our advisors, and co-chairs
Finally, after months of hard work, the weekend of Winter Chavurah was finally here. The Missouri Valley community was back together and to participate in the Social Action program we had planned. The program started out with Isaac Nuell addressing the entire region and talking about the influence the RAC has had in the movement toward equal rights. Also, Elizabeth Schankman opened up about her experiences being bullied and as a member of the LGBT community. That day, she became an inspiration to so many people and this was evident by the amount of tears we saw in the room while she was speaking.
The previous night, the participants signed up for one of the five breakout groups which interested them. These groups included: Legalizing Gay Marriage, Bullying, Inclusion in NFTY, The Employment Nondiscrimination Act and the Progression Towards LGBT Rights. When they broke off into these groups during the program they learned about the issues and participated in activities. These activities helped them to understand current legislation, effect of bullying and how to make the NFTY community a more welcoming and inclusive place. In addition, our initial idea for the video came to life when each group made their own segment of an It Gets Better video. Each segment was then compiled into a huge, amazing regional video (thanks Josh and Jonah!). It was amazing to see the enthusiasm everyone had while filming this video. They demonstrated such a passion towards this cause and we are so thankful to all of the participants for helping us to make this video a reality.
In the end, Missouri Valley learned about several significant issues, signed three different petitions, and made an incredible It Gets Better Video. After being up for less than a day, the video already has well over a hundred view and will only increase from here. We truly believe that on that day, Missouri Valley made an impact in their world around them and proved to everyone that it does get better.