Written by: Liam Anthony, AEFTY member
MLK weekend, I attended WNSTY, my first NFTY event.
Unfortunately, I am not an incredibly socially adept person. I have to rehearse my order a few times before the waiter comes, I struggle with public speaking, and my peers know that I am far from the most talkative person. So of course I was nervous to leave the familiarity of my own home and synagogue and spend my weekend at someone else’s. That changed from almost the second I arrived. The line for registration was fairly long, which led to around five minutes of small talk with the people closest to me in the slowly moving mass of people in the entrance to the synagogue. As anyone who has been to a family reunion knows, small talk is usually forced and uncomfortable, but the conversation that I had with these complete strangers was completely the opposite. We went beyond the typical conversations of “What TYG are you from?” and “What grade are you in?”; instead we told telling funny stories from our childhood and experiences in Hebrew School. Before I was even registered, I had already made friends. However, that was not even the most noteworthy experience in my first ten minutes of NFTY. That came when the last name tag was given to the person directly in front of me in line, or really what happened in the moments afterwards. As soon as the tall boy standing a few feet behind the registration table heard that there were no name tags left for me, he quickly peeled the name tag off of his shirt and handed it to me. It was not until later in the evening that I learned that this tall boy was the president of NFTY-PAR.
This is what NFTY is really about. From the moment I stepped through the door to the foreign synagogue, I was bombarded with kindness and generosity. At NFTY even the shyest of those attending have no problems fitting in, the most prominent member of everyone at the event is willing to give his name tag to a first-year attendee, and teenagers from all over the region can come together for a single weekend and form a family. I was at WNSTY for most of the weekend, but it changed my life in the first ten minutes.