Who in their right mind would want to host 140 teens at their congregation for the weekend? We would want to and we did it! This “we” is collective. Truly all of us made this Kallah, this weekend NFTY-SAR Winter Kallah, a success. With dozens of host families from Temple Emanu-El, countless helpers at mealtimes, and endless support from our families, Temple Emanu-El hosted an incredible weekend for NFTY-SAR (the Southern Area Region) that we should be very proud of.
NFTY is the youth wing of the Union for Reform Judaism. And NFTY is unique because all events are driven by a partnership between teens and adults. In the case of Temple Emanu-El, Rabbi Rachael and I take a deep interest in the success and mentorship of our teens. No other synagogue in the region receives the amount of direct rabbinic interaction that our teens experience at Temple Emanu-El. Over the past two and a half years, we have seen a growth and popularity in TEFTY, Temple Emanu-El’s youth group that has not been present in over a decade!
TEFTY teens are running a full calendar of events for the teen members of Temple Emanu-El. Our teens just finished planning the most recent Winter Kallah for the 140 teens in our region. And most importantly, two Temple Emanu-El teens, Ben and Lily Ragals were just elected by their peers to be on the regional board of NFTY-SAR--a HUGE accomplishment! Ben will serve as the regional Social Action Vice President and Lily will serve as the regional Membership Vice President. To put this in perspective, Temple Emanu-El has not had a regional board member since 2009-2010--over a decade. Rabbi Rachael and I are so proud of Lily and Ben, and we know that they will represent us well in our NFTY region.
While belonging to any Jewish youth movement is important, NFTY and TEFTY are both unique because of the connection the teens receive with their synagogue and their rabbis. NFTY is a more intimate setting that is proud to be affiliated with the Reform Movement. We want kids to grow up to be proud of their Jewish identity, to have lifelong relationships with their rabbis, and to always know that Temple Emanu-El is their spiritual home. This is possible, if not certain, through our youth programming from Kindergarten through 12th-grade. Our teens will graduate into adulthood knowing that they have the tools to succeed as independent Jews, and that Temple Emanu-El stands with them throughout their lives.
In the next few weeks, we are going to start planning our youth calendar for 2020-2021, if you and your child/teen would like to get involved, we would love to have you. Message Rabbi Rachael or me if you want to make sure you are signed up for the excellent programming ahead.