By Andrew Keene, NFTY President
Our tradition teaches us, “Know before whom you stand.” While these five words don’t appear in the Torah, they adorn hundreds of aronot kodesh, holy arks, in Reform synagogues. The phrase serves as a timeless reminder to live in a way that is both reverent of those who came before, while also paying special attention to how our actions impact the future.
The last 12 months have hosted a number of important anniversaries in the Reform Movement. Two of which are the centennial of the Women of Reform Judaism, and the 75th anniversary of NFTY, the North American Federation of Temple Youth. While it is easy to celebrate these milestones by aggrandizing just this year, both groups took the teaching “Know before whom you stand,” to heart.
As a way of meaningfully celebrating the rich history of these organizations, it became important to elevate the narratives of those who came before.
The URJ publishes a daily electronic publication entitled Ten Minutes of Torah. The publication is one of the most widely circulated publications of Torah commentary in the Jewish community and features some of the most acclaimed Jewish teachers and leaders. Each day of the week highlights a different aspect of Reform Jewish life. Starting last year, Tuesday highlighted the 100-year history of the Women of Reform Judaism. These narratives and essays provided context to the holy work currently happening.
And just as the WRJ’s vision created the youth movement now known as NFTY, the year dedicated to the WRJ’s history chronicled in Ten Minutes of Torah has served as the context for NFTY’s 75-year history to be featured in Ten Minutes of Torah.
This year, I have had the privilege of reaching out to some of NFTY’s earliest pioneers and leaders to write for Ten Minutes of Torah. It has been a great honor to work to retell NFTY’s 75-year history through the eyes of our greatest friends, partners, and leaders.
In the next nearly 50 weeks, I am excited to share with you voices of the past and present, as they bring to life the music, leadership, social justice, Israel experiences, and worship practices that make NFTY the unique teen movement it is today!