By Justin Horgan, NFTY-GER Social Actiove Vice President
With knowledge that we have the ability to share such knowledge with the world and influence others, and while I may hold the position of Social Action Vice President on NFTY-GER’s regional board, I have become aware of the lack of knowledge I hold about my state government. Sure I can tell you the heated topics going on a national level and what the last episode of NPR was about but I can’t explain how my state runs its politics. This is a common theme among many teens I have come into contact with. For this very reason I made sure to commit myself as much as possible to the RJVNJ.
The RJVNJ(Reform Jewish Voice Of New Jersey) is an organization that, in partnership with NFTY-GER, Rutgers and a few clergy members from the region aimed to teach teens about the pressing topics in our state and enable them to stand up for what they believe in. I attended a summit a couple of weeks ago along with Rutger’s Hillel members, other temple youth groups and teens from NFTY-GER. While we came from different walks of life it became apparent that we all lacked the nitty-gritty details about our state government. This is why it was so important that we came together to learn as a community about what we can do to make a difference. At the summit we talked and learned more about pressing issues like gun control and marriage equality laws and what we can do to make a difference. We were also taught about how New Jersey is influenced by the states around us like New York and Pennsylvania and how this made getting important messages about the New Jersey government extremely tasking and very expensive.
Overall the summit was a success because teens walked away with a clear understanding of what their government entailed. It was an awesome experience to see teens from the New Jersey region both active and not active in NFTY taking an interest in their state government. I am happy to say that I got to know a few of the non-NFTY active teens and was able to bond over our similar interests and Jewish heritage. Only time will tell what the teens will do with that information. What is certain is that the RJVNJ will continue to be around to aid teens to get their voice out there and clear the dense fog that exists between teens and our state government.
Are you involved in a program like RJVNJ? Let us know in the comments!