Guiding NFTY’s Future

By Evan Traylor, Immediate Past NFTY President

As my time as NFTY President comes to a close at Mechina, I have been reflecting upon my experiences over this past year, as well as continuing to reflect upon NFTY’s incredible 74 years of existence. Through these reflections, I have found myself continually inspired by the energy and passion that Reform Jewish teens have infused into NFTY through the course of our rich history. Engaging programming, strong social action initiatives and a consistently inclusive community have filled our movement with many proud moments.

So, what about our future?

In 2014, NFTY will celebrate its 75th anniversary, giving us all the opportunity to joyfully commemorate and remember the history of our movement. As NFTY moves towards 75 years, Andrew Keene, the new NFTY President, and my successor, has the incredible and unique opportunity to lead our movement into the future. In working with Andrew over the past year as a member of the NFTY Regional President’s Network, as well as over the last four months following the election of the North American Board at NFTY Convention 2013, I have witnessed a truly thoughtful, dedicated and charismatic leader who will lead our movement to new heights. In order to further expand the abilities of our NFTY Leadership, Andrew will be taking a gap-year between high school and college, effectively re-shaping and re-imagining NFTY’s future leadership structure.

For many people in the world, the future is a sometimes scary or intimidating concept. While we look forward to so many things in our lives, the future still remains unknown. Between NFTY’s 75th anniversary, the continuing and ever-adapting Campaign for Youth Engagement and an overall change in the scope and environment of Reform Judaism in North America, many aspects of our movement remain unknown right now. However, I believe that Andrew and the NFTY North American Board have the skills, commitment, vision and drive to fill our movement with meaningful Jewish experiences, as well as expand our abilities to engage even more Reform Jewish teens in our movement.

One of the greatest examples of generational leadership is found in the Torah, as Moses prepares to turn over his leadership position to Joshua:

“And the Lord said unto Moses: “Take thee Joshua the son of Nun, a man in whom is spirit, and lay thy hand upon him, and set him before Eleazar the priest, and before all the congregation, and give him a charge in their sight. And thou shalt put of thy honor upon him, that all the congregation of the children of Israel may hearken”

- Numbers 27:18-23

As NFTY faces an enormous transition in its North American leadership this month, I believe that our movement has the ability to expand and strengthen our commitment to ourselves and to Reform Judaism. I wish nothing but good luck to Andrew and the incoming NFTY North American Board. Get ready and excited for the future of NFTY!

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