By Matt Wall-NFTY-SW Programming Vice President, Temple Kol Ami
Throughout my high school career, NFTY and BBYO have always been rivals of sorts. With only a few participating in both organizations, stereotypes arose and many seem to have formed the same opinion toward the other organization. This past summer, I was lucky enough to attend the URJ Kutz Camp and on one of the days, BBYO International Kallah and NFTY’s summer home participated in a very large Maccabiah that brought the two organizations together for the first time. I instantly made connections with the BBYO kids and by the end of the day; we had proven that NFTY and BBYO could truly participate with each other. No longer would there be an intense separation between each other and we all just get along. It was one thing for BBYO and NFTY to get come together on the national level, but I doubted it could ever happen on the regional level, let alone in my home state.
This past weekend, NFTY-Southwest and BBYO Mountain Region came together for the first ever Hanukkah Party between the two organizations. At first, I was very hesitant and did not know if it would actually work. But when all was finished, for the first time in my high school career, NFTY and BBYO were brought together and were getting along. We were all on the dance floor, singing and dancing with our closest friends. The event kicked off with some lovely dancing and some socializing. Next we all came together for a wonderful Havdallah led by NFTY-SW Religious and Cultural Vice President Cody Rosen (Temple Chai), BBYO Mountain Region S’gan David Setton, and myself. Watching both organizations finally come together as one Jewish community really inspired me that this totally can happen. We may be different organizations on the outside, but we are all Jewish teenagers who just want to hang out and have fun.
After Havdallah, NFTY-SW Membership Vice-President Jordan Weissman (Temple Solel), BBYO Mountain Region Morah Mallory Lakin, and myself led a mixer called The Voice, where we split up into groups and created new words to a song that had to deal with Hanukkah and coordinated dance moves. With the performances being laugh out loud funny, we got the chance to be creative and get to know other teenagers in the valley. Although we started out as two big groups, we began to form one giant community. I was so very impressed with the Hanukkah Party overall and I am so glad that I could be a part of it. As David Setton and NFTY-SW President Spencer Winson (Temple Chai) put it, “We may be two different organizations, but this party proves that we can get along and we can work together.”