By Anna Good, NFTY-NW Member
Hava nashira, shir hallelujah, We’ll sing together, sing hallelujah.
Nashir: NFTY’s Teen Songleading Institute is not your typical NFTY event. We don’t have programs on social action or world issues, there’s no teens leading the event, there’s no TYG, and there’s not merchandise at the end of the event to wear to school the next day and show your friends. It’s just a bunch of teens that want to learn more about songleading, and how they are able to change services, and change the face of Reform Judaism for the future. It teaches them skills on how to teach a new song effectively, work collaboratively in a group, as well as plan a service, a song session, or a religious school music program. But most of all, it teaches them how to have fun while doing it all!
From the moment you walk in the event there is always music playing. Whether it’s a guitar or piano, or even people just singing a Dan Nichols’ or Alan Goods’ newest songs, or even songs from Frozen, there are always sounds of ruach. This music that the teens are makingis the whole body of the event, and it’s a special and precious kind of music. It’s not just any kind of music. It is the kind that sends chills of amazement down your spine and makes you want to freeze that moment in time so you never have to leave. It is as though you’ve opened a doorway to heaven and all the angels are singing. You would not hear this from a regular group of teens or even adult musicians; because these are this is no normal group of teens. These are songleader teens! This is the kind of music that gives you hope for the next generation as this group of teens is turning into, the next generation of rabbis and cantors that will love their teens and will want them to have the same kind of love for Judaism that they did themselves had when they were teens.
This program has shown me all of this, and even more that cannot be put into words. It has taught me to be more confident, how to build a service so that many people will get involved, and so much more as well. These are all skills I definitely needed when I went to my first NaShir last year in my home town of Seattle. I wasn’t comfortable talking or singing in a microphone in front of a group, and I didn’t really know how to put together a service. I learned much at my first Nashir, but now after going to a second amazing Nashir in Las Vegas, I can get up in front of a group with just a minute or two’s notice and lead an entire song session, service or religious school music program and not be afraid. These programs have not only given me the skills I need to do these things, but they have also given me the relationships to build a support system. I now have songleader friends all across the country, and adult mentors that are more than willing to help me with anything musical I may need. I know that if I want to write a service about food and how it’s related to prayer, I know that I can just Facebook one of these amazing songleader and they well help me come up with many different ways to relate food to prayer.
Because of all of these skills, friends and new experiences, I am able to be a songleader in fount of people with my only 2 and half years of guitar experience. Not just for my temple, but for my whole NFTY region where this last year I was elected as NFTY Northwest head songleader. I know without these amazing NaShir programs I would have never had the skills, let alone had the experiences, to be able to do this job. I also know that because of these programs I have grown as a person and helped to change the face of Reform Judaism for the future.
NFTY Nashir is an exciting opportunity that brings together teen songleaders for a weekend of training, skill development and hands on learning. Participants engage in intensive workshops, small-group specialty focused electives, individual evaluation and a musical Shabbat experience. Learn more at www.nfty.org/nashir