By Evan Traylor, NFTY North American President
Looking back on my amazing journey through NFTY, there have definitely been some incredible and life-changing moments that have come to define not only my NFTY career, but also some of my favorite memories. These moments define my life in NFTY, and have given me the valuable opportunities to grow and become inspired as a NFTYite and as a Reform Jewish teen.
In the spring of my 8th grade year, I first experienced the power of a NFTY community when I attended NFTY-TOR’s JYG at Greene Family Camp. Going into the event, I knew one other girl from my Temple and my TYG Advisor. After leaving the event, however, I had made so many awesome friends, many of whom I have become best friends with over the years while attending Greene Family Camp, NFTY-TOR events, and NFTY in Israel in 2010. This was my first ever exposure to NFTY, and it would change my life forever.
The summer after my sophomore year, I had the amazing and inspiring opportunity to explore the great land of Israel through NFTY in Israel L’dor V’dor trip. On this trip, I not only made lifelong friendships with NFTYites from all across North America, but I also got to renew my Jewish spiritual connection to the land of Israel, and renew its position as a driving force of inspiration as a Reform Jewish teen.
In February of my junior year, I drove a mere 3 hours south to Dallas, Texas for NFTY Convention 2011. This enormous and crazy gathering of NFTYites was unlike any other NFTY event I had ever attended. While song sessions and meeting new friends were definitely highlights, the NFTY-TOR regional board’s opportunity to lead Havdallah was my first time leading NFTY at the North American level, and was an incredibly inspiring and motivating moment in my life.
NFTY-TOR Spring Kallah 2011 was filled with incredibly bitter-sweet moments. While I was very excited to be elected and installed as NFTY-TOR President for my senior year, I was also very disappointed that my time with the 2010-2011 TOR board was coming to an end. This was an amazing testament to the true power of generational leadership within NFTY.
It’s hard to believe that only a few months ago, over 5,000 Reform Jews descended upon Washington D.C. for the 2011 URJ Biennial. As a member of the Campaign for Youth Engagement Vision Team, this Biennial was a very exciting time for NFTY and all Reform Jewish teens, as the URJ rededicated itself to the strong involvement and contribution of Reform Jewish youth within our Jewish communities.
Almost four months ago, members of the NFTY General Board gathered at the URJ Henry S. Jacobs Camp in order to make bold decisions that would affect the future of NFTY and the URJ for years to come. In addition to running for NFTY President, I was looking forward to this event in order to build upon the incredibly strong friendships that were begun all the way back in June at NFTY Mechina. This weekend has been, and will continue to be my inspiration as I continue on my NFTY journey. I look forward to our shared future as we carry the NFTY torch through this important time in our movement.