by Avra Bossov
Identity. Belonging. Connections. Impact. The topics we learn and explore in NFTY that truly become lifelong thought streams, those topics we circle back to from time to time in the quiet moments of self-reflection.
As a recent college graduate, and soon-to-be graduating again with my Masters, I’ve been having my fair share of self-reflection. In part, because “what I want to be when I grow up” answers should be formulated into an actual career path. In other parts, though, because I’m in my fifth year of becoming a NFTY Alumna. Something I keep coming back to is how so much of who I am today – and who I want to become – can be attributed and rooted to the personal and leadership development I experienced in NFTY and other URJ Youth programs.
Because we all just want to be heard. We all just want to live life together, to the fullest. For me, right now, that means chasing a sense of belonging; and forming new connections or restoring old ones; and honoring traditions in new ways, as I try to figure out my twenties.
Which is why on November 13, hosting a Shabbat oneg with two friends from NFTY and Kutz in their apartment, I had an “aha” moment.
With relatively little effort, we brought together 20 NFTY Alumni in the Washington, D.C. area, who represented 8 of our 19 NFTY regions. Together we formed a community of current college students from Georgetown, GW, American University, and the University of Maryland; of young professionals who just moved to D.C. earlier this year; of roommates and former regional board members and Legislative Assistants from the Religious Action Center. Our mini-community, gathered for just over three hours, captured what I had been searching for these past few months.
It doesn’t take much to form community, especially with NFTY Alumni. While our conversations definitely included reminiscing about our time in this incredible organization, most of it was about where we are now, and about the future. This kind of organic and informal setting provided us with so many opportunities to share our stories.
NFTY is only as strong as our NFTYites. And in our case, our NFTY Alumni network is only as strong as our NFTY Alumni. The connections we formed, the friendships that have lasted years, the kinds of conversations we had about current events and social issues made a lasting impact that transcends any programmatic pieces. They’re within us, sparks waiting to be reignited.
In a room full of NFTY Alumni, I remembered how special it is – and how important it is – to remember our roots as we get our footing in the moment, and plan for whatever comes next. For all these reasons, and more, I can’t wait to host another event for NFTY Alumni in D.C.
Ready to host your own event? Avra and her co-hosts put together a step-by-step list to help!