By Randy Burke, NFTY-SW
In short, NFTY-HUC Study Weekend, was incredible. I first heard about the weekend through my rabbi, Rony Keller, who wanted me to attend the weekend because of my expressed interest in becoming a rabbi myself. The weekend was staffed by three HUCinci students; Ari (a fifth year student), Dana and Leah (both second year students). In addition, Alex Rogers, from NFTY helped the HUC students in their programs. There were twelve kids who came for the weekend, which made for great discussions. The focal point of the event was Jewish identity; What it is, how you create it, and what it means to you. We had discussions and completed projects based on the week’s Torah portion, vayakheil-pikudey. We also had rabbis and cantors come and lecture on topics such as identity versus identification and musical differences between Sephardim and Ashkenazim. We also visited the Plum Street shul Saturday after Shabbat services, went bowling Saturday night and as a group, we created friendships that only NFTYites understand.
Personally, the best part of the weekend was the Saturday morning Shabbat service. Throughout the previous day, I enjoyed walking around the HUC campus and talking with the students, but come Saturday morning, I was so connected to the Shabbos prayers, it seemed as if I was a student there. I could see myself as a student there, learning, studying and praying alongside a community with the same aspiration to go into the rabbinate. The feelings running through me that morning confirmed that all I had done from teaching at Sunday school, to attending Camp Stein, to tutoring students for their b’nei mitzvot and going to Israel are things about my Jewish identity that further reinforce my dream of becoming a rabbi.
Going into the weekend I wanted to be a rabbi, but coming out I had the mentality that I will be a rabbi.
Teen Study Weekends, a joint venture of NFTY, Hebrew Union College, American Jewish Archives and the Religious Action Center, bring teens together on the HUC Cincinnati campus to focus on a weekend-long theme that allows participants to explore their Jewish identity while engaging with some of the Reform Movements most dedicated scholars and teachers. Learn more at www.nfty.org/studyweekend.