By Mike Brest, MaLTY Programming Vice President
I am Michael Brest and I am not like the typical PARite. I went to Hag/Mac at the end of my ninth grade year. I did not enjoy it all. Following it, the odds of me returning to NFTY-PAR were slim to none. However, with the persistence and annoyance of a few people, I gave NFTY-PAR a second shot. I can’t thank them enough.
A year and a half passed between my first and second event. I’m not sure whether I got more mature, or maybe I just became more comfortable with who I am. Either way, NFTY the second time around, has been life-changing. Now, some of my closest friends are from NFTY-PAR. I am also on a number of different committees such as Social Action, Canteen, Programming, Year Book, Group Leading, and the Blog Committee. If you would have told me after that first event how much of a role PAR plays in my life now, I would’ve laughed in your face.
From November 15-17, NFTY-PAR gathered once again at Camp Harlam for the annual Fall Kallah event. At the event, there were a number of different ways I felt like a senior in NFTY, even though many of the younger PARites have been to more events than I have. On Friday night, all the seniors from MaLTY (my TYG) lead bunk bonding with the underclassmen. Ian Zeitlin, Max Miller-Golub, Jon Naiberg, and I gathered all the underclassmen together and had an open forum. It wasn’t necessarily the most intense bonding session, but I hope it helped some of our new members feel integrated into our community. Even though I have a variety of leadership opportunities on different committees; and have been a “frequent flyer” at the recent events, this really helped me feel like a true part of PARite.
Another highlight, from the event when I felt like a true NFTY senior, was during the Operation Understanding program. The second half of this program dealt with groups looking at pictures and writing down stereotypes they thought of when they saw these people. However, none of these photos were exactly how they appeared and that was the point of the program; the physical traits that give us our first impressions of people reveal a very tiny part of who a person actually is. I was a group leader and I really enjoyed being one. I open up more when I’m leading a group. I feel like if I know what the next discussion question is, I can offer personal thoughts that will help lead the group to the next question without actually stopping and switching. Throughout Fall Kallah, I felt like a senior with something I can offer to the underclassmen even though I’ve been a part of NFTY-PAR for a short period of time.