By Kenny Goszman, NFTY-STR Programming Vice President
Walking into PARTY’s BART Shabbat event last Friday, I had no idea what to expect. Little did I know, I was about to witness the coming-together of seven Broward Country reform congregations in food, in song, in prayer, and in welcoming a very special guest.
The night began with a youth group dinner, where the TYG’s from each of the seven congregations that make up BART, or the Broward County Area Reform Temples, all joined for a delicious meal. This was an awesome reunion with NFTY friends, some of whom I saw last week at NFTY Convention in LA, but also some that I hadn’t seen since Winter Regional in December.
Following the meal, we filed into the large sanctuary with the congregants from the seven Broward congregations where we sang and prayed. It was a true honor to see rabbis and cantors from seven different temples collaborating and producing wonderful music and prayer experiences for us all. The NFT Y section in the back corner of the sanctuary cheered on as current T YG Presidents Brandon Marks, Matt Kessler, Avi Matarasso, and Hanna Santo were called up to the bimah to light the Shabbat candles and lead the congregation in the kiddush.
Later on came the moment we had all been waiting for—the guest of honor at this BART Shabbat, URJ President Rabbi Rick Jacobs, came forth and spoke to us all. Beyond his great Jewish wisdom and his remarkable sense of humor, Rabbi Jacobs made some extremely important points that set a direction for Reform Judaism:
- We must continue to be accepting and open-minded of others who may want to join our community
- We must strive for greater engagement, especially for youth, through creative means
- We must unify and work tirelessly for peace, and reach out to government officials about issues such as gun control reform
- We must work together to ensure the growth and viability of Reform Judaism everywhere
After the service, both the NFTY group and Rabbi Jacobs stayed behind for a bit so that we could present him with a small gift to show our appreciation for him (he loved his new NFTY-STR travel mug!). We took a few pictures together and he told us that we are the future leaders of Reform Judaism and that it is we who will carry the Reform movement in years to come.
That is a lot on our plates, NFTY-STR, but I know we can do it. Are you ready?