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Happy Sixth Night of Chanukah: How NFTY Brings Light to My Life by Justin Rubenstein

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Chanukah is a time for making the world brighter. Each night of Chanukah we’ll be featuring stories from teens serving on the Jewish Teen Alliance of Chicago (JTAC) sharing how adding their Jewish experiences add light to our community. JTAC members are representatives of Chicago’s amazing teen programs. For the sixth night, we will hear from Justin about his experience with NFTY.

My name is Justin Rubenstein and I represent NFTY on the Jewish Teen Alliance of Chicago (JTAC).  

Throughout the year,  NFTY-CAR (Chicago Area Region) runs a ton of programs and events, both in person and virtual, in Chicagoland.  

These events are based on social action, Israel, Jewish culture & prayer, song leading, and fun. NFTY is open for primarily 9-12 graders with a 6-8 grade program. NFTY also is led by a group of teens who are elected to be on the regional board. There are also Va'adot which are committees of people focused on a specific aspect of NFTY. For example, I am on the Social Action & Programming  Va’ad, but there are also many more, including song leading, Israel, 678, and social media.

Justin Rubenstein Menorah Lighting

I first came to NFTY in 7th Grade where I wanted to see camp friends, meet new people, and be part of the Jewish community. My favorite event in NFTY was the NFTY 678 Kallah I went to when I was in 7th Grade at OSRUI. I had a lot of fun staying overnight and going to a waterpark and enjoying the community. Another event I really liked was the Kolbo, our final event of the year and the first event on Zoom right as the pandemic was starting. This was my first high school event, and I had a lot of fun being welcomed into the full Jewish community and enjoying being with other people since we were all stuck at home. NFTY is a community I love and cherish so much, and I hope you consider coming to a NFTY event because it is a great way to get involved in the Jewish Community. 

Justin Rubenstien Photo

About the Author: Justin is a sophomore at Vernon Hills High School. He is a member of Student Council and #vhgive and is the Director of Activism for JSA (the school’s political, debate, and activism club). Justin is actively involved in his synagogue, Congregation Or Shalom and their youth group ‘Jew Crew’. He loves NFTY and spending summers at OSRUI.