By Miranda Rosen, NFTY-SW Programming Vice President
Growing up immersed in a Jewish lifestyle, prayers and well-wishes were always the norm. In every conversation I heard in temple or in my house as a little girl—and believe me, there were quite a few—they had something to do with stating that they were in someone’s thoughts, that they were important, that their ideas or opinions mattered.
NFTY brought forth that concept that had been so ingrained in my Jewish identity—the idea of wishing well for others—and transformed it. You see, through programs, mixers, Torah studies and just socializing with other NFTYites, I realized that words only get people so far. The “well-wishes” are only meaningful if there are actions accompanied with them.
NFTY taught me, since my very first event, that if I want to see change happen, I have to make it happen. I can long for the change I wish to see, but if I am not willing to put myself out there and be that change, then my wishes just go to waste.
This lesson has directly let me to joining the organizations I work with today, one of which being the Alliance for a Healthier Generation, an organization that was created by the Clinton Foundation and the American Heart Association. I am a part of their Youth Advisory Board, a group of 21 people ages 8-18 throughout America who want to put their dreams into action and transform their communities into healthier places. All of us have our own dreams, our own visions for the places we live, but we all share one common basis—the passion for putting ourselves out there and making a difference. I am not aware how my other board members cultivated this passion, but I know that for myself, NFTY is what created this life meaning and goal for me. I am blessed to have been able to make an impact with this organization, and I know that I was able to do so because of the lessons NFTY has taught me.
It’s funny, because when you think of a Jewish teen organization, you never think what someone would learn there would impact the health of citizens in Henderson, Nevada. And the best part is, it’s creating so much more. Every person who goes into a NFTY event, be it in Florida, Phoenix or LA, has been changed by something they’ve learned. It goes past the programs, the social action projects or even the services—it’s the personalities they unfold, the memories that change them, the ability to be themselves that allow them to open up and find who they really are.
The impacts from NFTY don’t just occur at events; they occur when you get home. They appear when you reach out and make a new friend because you know the real value of friendship. They appear when you join a club or organization because you’ve realized how important philanthropy is. They appear when you are able to reach out and change your school, community, state or even world, because you now have the confidence in yourself to know that it is possible.
If I have learned anything to be undeniably true, it is that every NFTYite changes the lives of others. Every NFTYite is important. Every NFTYite makes an impact, no matter the size, that changes the lives of the people around them to be better.
As when I was young, I am still very involved in my temple, and I still hear people talk to each other quite often. But unlike when I was little, when I hear these well-wishes from people at synagogue or at NFTY, I also hear something else hidden between the words—a promise. It’s a promise to act, a promise to care and it’s truly a promise to not just hope for the well being of those people, but to be in active part in making sure that promise comes true.