by Ali Klein, NFTY-NE ’15
I’ve been out of NFTY for a whole year now, which is absolutely crazy to think about, given it was such a huge part of my life for so long. My time in NFTY was four amazing years, and I met incredible people and made life-long friends during that time. It was an opportunity to discover myself and let my freak flag fly without any fear of judgment, knowing that my friends were also being their true selves. NFTY opened me up to become the person I want to be. I owe NFTY everything.
Going to college was maybe the biggest transition in my life so far. I had to make almost all new friends, figure out a whole new academic system and new professors, all while not getting lost on the massive campus at the University of New Hampshire. Still, I knew I had built my confidence and had a clear sense of the kind community I wanted to create at my college, thanks to NFTY.
At the end of the school year, I got the opportunity to go to a reunion and be able to relive my favorite memories. On May 31, NFTY-Northeast and one of our TYGs coordinated a reunion for alumni and current graduating seniors to welcome them into the NFTY alumni network. Hannah Elbaum, an alum from our region, officially planned it, finding the venue and coordinating social media pushes to get people to sign up. The event was held in the Union Street Restaurant in Newton, MA, which is central to many of our TYGs and very easily accessible by public transportation. Walking into the restaurant was like getting off the bus at a Conclavette or an Institute. Rushing into my friends’ arms like we did at every event brought back all the happiness and excitement I had when arriving at a NFTY event.
The event itself, though, was different than a NFTY event. Instead of having programming and a theme, we had time to hang out, order food off of a specialized event menu and sign ourselves up for the NFTY Alumni Directory online. There were also a bunch of people there who had graduated NFTY-Northeast before even I had started in ninth grade! There were about 50 people from our region in total, ranging in graduating years from 2016—the newest alums!—to a small group that had graduated in 2009 and 2010. After lots of hugging, we continued our excited catching up over a plate of nachos.
I was able to see most of my friends and people who I haven’t talked to in ages. It was a wonderful group of people, and the food was great. I was able to catch up with friends I haven’t kept in contact with throughout the year. It was like picking up where we left off, like no time had passed at all.
As my friends and I all left, we realized we didn’t want the night to end, so we walked to J.P. Licks, a local ice cream place, to keep the party going. And when the night finally came to a close, we promised that this event would become an annual tradition so no matter the distance, we can make sure to have a set time and place to keep up with each other’s lives. I wish the night had lasted longer, but it was amazing to reconnect with the people and the community that helped me be who I am today.