By Jennifer Gitler, AEFTY SAVP
On January 18-20 the members of NFTY-PAR came together for WINSTY, our annual winter event. One thing that makes WINSTY special is that it isn’t held at Camp Harlam. Instead it’s a home-housed event hosted by one of the region’s TYGs and congregation. This year it was hosted by my TYG, AEFTY from Adath Emanu-El, Mt. Laurel, NJ. It was a little hectic to host but it was also really fun and educational.
The theme for the event was NFTY-PAR Flash Forward. Throughout the weekend we talked about leaving a positive mark on the future. At our Friday night program we created timelines for ourselves, thinking about our goals for the future, and how our past life events influence us today. During our Saturday morning Torah study we looked at how interpretations of the Torah have changed over the years and discussed how we thought our personal interpretations would affect our future decisions.
One of my favorite parts of the event was our Friday night service because it was held with the congregation. AEFTY’s Board wrote a terrific service that allowed for a lot of teen participation. It was great to hear all of the positive reactions to the service, from both teens and adults.
While we always participate in social action at PAR events, it’s the main theme of WINSTY. Throughout the weekend we helped out at 12 organizations including a retirement home, the Ronald McDonald House, animal shelters, and the Mount Laurel Gardens. Each attendee got to participate in two projects, one on Saturday and one on Sunday. We also collected canned food that was donated to the food bank.
I’ve been to a lot of regional events and a few national events as well, but I’ve never gotten to participate in an event nearly as much as I did for WINSTY. I really loved being part of the host TYG because I got to go behind the scenes and see all of the planning and hard work that goes into making a successful event. Although there was a lot to do and sometimes it got pretty stressful, it was an awesome experience overall. I got to do a lot of new things and learned a lot along the way. When I wasn’t playing host I was able to have fun with my friends which is a key part of NFTY. It was an absolutely amazing experience and I would volunteer to do it again in a heartbeat!