Being A Senior In NFTY-NE
By Lauren Isaacson
The day was April 6, 2018. It was a Friday and it was the start of BESTY SPRONC, my first ever NFTY-NE event as a sophomore. That sophomore girl was nervous to be spending the weekend at a house of someone she didn't know and scared she would not make friends that weekend. Well, she was proven completely wrong. She had an amazing host home group and made so many new friends that she couldn't wait to see at her next event!
Now as a senior whose time in NFTY is over, it is hard to believe that I was so nervous for my first ever event. These past years being in NFTY have truly changed me for the better.
Obviously, this year didn't end how I expected. However, there are so many important lessons that have come out of this. Not only are they lessons for how this year occurred, but also for being a senior in NFTY. I want to focus on four things: Friendship, Community and Family, Leadership, and Acceptance. These are the four pillars that made my NFTY experience and senior year so special.
The first pillar is friendship. The friendships you make in NFTY are unique. They are with people in your grade, but also those older and younger than you. For me, the friendships I've made in NFTY are some of the strongest I've ever made. These friends are the ones I call to laugh with, to cry with, and to be myself with. Building these friendships, you need to have a strong foundation. That foundation is our Judaism. For me, I am one of the only Jewish kids in my school. At school, I always have to explain to everyone why am I absent for two days at the beginning of the year. However, when I'm at NFTY, I don't have to explain myself. I don't have to explain my Judaism. I think that's what makes these friendships so strong, the ability to not have to explain. When I first came to my first event, my grade accepted me with open arms. Those arms have constantly embraced me over these past few years. I cannot thank the senior class enough for the love and support they have given me through our friendships. I find that quotes, though cliche, truly express how I feel. For each pillar, I have a quote that goes along with it. “There are certain people who make the world a better place just by being in it. You are one of those people. I love you, my friends”.
The second pillar is community and family. This community in NFTY-NE is so important to who I am as a person. Not only the community as a whole, but the tiny ones you make for yourself. For me, one of the strongest communities I was able to be a part of was the women's plus community. This community is full of strong and compassionate women+ who open their hearts to each other each time we meet. They listen when you speak and build you up when you need it the most. I am so honored to have been able to be a part of this community throughout my years in NFTY. The sisterhood will be with me for life. Though the boys can't relate exactly to the women's plus community, I know the Brotherhood is just as strong. The brotherhood and sisterhood are more than just communities in NFTY-NE, they are families. Families who love you no matter who you are or what you do. For those who still have more time in NFTY, cherish these families and the countless communities you make while in NFTY. “Community is about doing something together that makes belonging matter”-Brian Solis.
My third pillar of NFTY is leadership. I think this pillar is most important to what makes senior year so different than any other years spent here. Being a senior, there are many opportunities for you to be seen as a leader. One is being an overall at an Institute. I was lucky enough to be one for Summer Institute. Along with three other seniors, Ben, Aaron, and most importantly Julia, we were asked to be overalls. Each of us planned our own programs and group led during the event. Together we had to make skits about the theme of the institute and one to perform during the talent show. Being an overall with these three people was truly a blessing. I wasn’t close with any of the other overalls before Summer Institute. However, after this event, they are some of my closest friends. When I was younger, I looked up to the overalls at Institutes, and being one made everything feel full circle. The most important leadership role I was given this year was being a co-leader for the women's plus community. As I wrote earlier, this community is a family. The women's plus community is full of love and acceptance. I am so honored to have been able to lead this community for the past year along with my best friend, Jamie Wolpert. However, being a senior is a leadership role in itself. Whether you have an “official” title or not, the community looks up to you because you are a senior. “To become a leader is synonymous with becoming yourself. It is precisely that simple, and it is also that difficult”-Warren G. Tennis.
The last pillar is acceptance. I've always had difficulty being myself completely. Until I came to NFTY. I don’t fear of being judged for my outspoken, outgoing, and weird self. In NFTY, I am unapologetically myself. Acceptance is what makes NFTY so special. The friends you make in NFTY accept you for you. NFTY is a community and family who accepts with warmth and kindness. NFTY accepts you for being a leader. Acceptance of myself and others has allowed me to make friendships that will last a lifetime, to be a part of a community and family that supports each other, and to become a leader. “A friend is someone who understands your past, believes in your future, and accepts you just the way you are.”
The four pillars of my NFTY experience and Senior year: friendship, community and family, leadership, and acceptance. I don't think I can genuinely express how grateful and thankful I am for NFTY-NE. “When I first met you, I honestly didn’t know you were gonna be this important to me.” The most important lesson NFTY-NE has taught me is unconditional love.
Although my time in NFTY-NE has come to a close, the impact you all have made on me is one that I will never forget. Thank you NFTY-NE. I love you and I will miss you.