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The Collab: The New NFTY by Josh Jury

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NFTY has been the Reform Jewish Youth Movement for the last 83 years, but the pandemic presented challenges to its future. Now NFTY is back, in its entirety, and led by ambitious leaders looking to pick back up where we left off. 

‘The Collab' was a monumental event for the future of the Jewish youth movement. It had been several years since an in-person NFTY North American event, and in my time involved in NFTY, this made it my first. 

Josh Jury Photo 1

When I first found out this event was happening, I was beyond excited. And the fact that my home camp, OSRUI, was hosting was just an added bonus. The group comprised of people from across the U.S., from the east coast to the west coast, the midwest, north and south, all regions across the board were present and made an effort to join in on the fun. This event was oriented toward enhancing the leadership skills of Jewish high schoolers in the Reform Movement. And this event was important for setting NFTY back on track. 

Josh Jury Photo 2

We arrived on Shabbat and after some ice breakers and many rounds of Jewish geography (some unplanned!) we were instantly connected despite our diversely different backgrounds. The first dinner was a little quiet. We were all happy to be together, but not fully introduced as a group, just excited for what was ahead. 

Josh Jury Photo 3

By the next day, things were really kicking off with a plethora of activities planned for us. The day was guided toward our own personal leadership skills and growth. We attended a storytelling training program where we learned how to better public speak and narrate interesting stories, cultivating more captivating ways of communication. We learned about a 1:1 conversation, which is a very intentional and formal conversation that aims away from the “what” and toward the “why”. Shortly after 1:1’s we had a voting program, which was organized and led by friends of mine that I met this summer on NFTY in Israel! I was thrilled to be asked to help lead in this program about restrictions and language barriers in voting. This is under-represented topic that I personally became more educated through in preparing to present to our rotating groups. We moved on to other programming, some more regional specific, to further develop connections between our local groups, and even a mock trial to gear in on more politically active aspects of what justice looks like. 

Josh Jury Photo 4

All NFTY events are enriching; whether through social action, fun programming, social justice initiatives, or just through exploring new friendships in an accepting and inclusive Jewish community. ‘The Collab’ was action packed and I couldn’t possibly summarize everything. I came back from this weekend really inspired and with a smile on my face. There was definitely an energy with this group that I’ll never forget. And I met many amazing new friends just in those few days. For everyone who attended, although the weekend is over, it’s clear that this is just the beginning of something new and exciting ahead for all of us. 

About the Author: Josh Jury is a member of temple Etz Chaim and a junior at Homewood-Flossmoor High School. In his free time he likes to read, bike, travel, and he enjoys photography. Josh is active in NFTY-CAR and has served on the social action committee and is currently the NFTY-CAR Israel Chair. He enjoys spending his summers at URJ OSRUI.