While driving home from Chicago for Thanksgiving, my fiancee and I played a fun little game, counting the number of NFTY events each of us had attended. Between our time as participants and staff members in the youth movement, we learned that I have been to 45 youth group events and she has been to 40.
The more I thought about it, the luckier I felt. I have had the opportunity on 45 occasions to come together and experience what it feels like to create a community. 45 times I have had the chance to learn from the best young minds in Judaism, and to grapple with some of life’s greatest questions. Spanning over 10 states and multiple countries, I have had the opportunity to see the world and to do so through the lens of gathering together to do the work of our people. I met the woman who will be my wife as part of a NFTY event.
NFTY events cost money. For the first four years of my experience, my parents were incredible in making that a priority financially and through their support. Since then, I have spent time and resources to make sure that I could be present at some of the greatest gatherings of passionate young Jews, and continue to develop my own knowledge and network along the way.
Next week, I will attend the URJ Biennial, a grown up version of a NFTY event. To have 45 events of experience under my belt makes me appreciate even more how lucky I am to get to do this work as my profession.