By Ilana Symons, NFTY-PAR Member
This past October 18- 20th, 16 NFTYites, including myself, gathered at the Cincinnati campus of Hebrew Union College for a JIR/NFTY/RAC Binah Weekend entitled Moving the Movement. Throughout the weekend, we discussed different ways to make an impact on the world surrounding us from a Reform and modern perspective. We analyzed firsthand documents about Jews who changed America, studied with current rabbinical students and their teachers, learned how to campaign for modern day issues from an intern at the Religious Action Center, and had an amazing concert with Dan Nichols. It was a very empowering experience to grow with other Reform Jewish teens and be the change we want to see in the world.
My favorite program was our final one. After we absorbed all of this information, the next step was where do we go from here and moving forward. Shortly afterwards we were all going to be separated with no Jewish leaders to push us into action. We gathered for a final time and were posed this challenge: write a call to action for an issue close to your heart in 140 characters or less, a tweet. We went off into our thoughts and I found myself having a hard time with this task.
What did I truly care about?
As I know from being a teenager, our world has a lot of challenges, globally or not. My ‘a-ha!’ moment arrived when I came to terms with the fact that all of the injustices in the world could not be stopped by one person. As pessimistic as this sounds, it’s true. In correlation with this, I realized this doesn’t mean I should stop trying. “It is not your job to finish the work, but you can’t ignore it.” This quote from the Mishna followed us throughout the weekend and finally it caught up to me. After the 16 of us finished writing our tweets, we stood in a circle and passed string back and forth, interconnecting us and creating a network of change.
Dan Nichols had earlier told us that we need to know what our socks are and what are shoes are. In essence, which small issues can be fixed to brighten the overall picture. Though separately we can only start the work, collectively we can change the world. I am more prepared than ever to take a stand for what I believe in because I know that others will be doing the same.