MORE THAN 1,000 REFORM JEWISH YOUTH GATHER AT 2005 NFTY CONVENTION IN LOS ANGELES
More than 1,300 Reform Jewish teens the largest assembly of Jewish high school youth in the world recently gathered in Los Angeles for the 2005 Convention of the North American Federation of Temple Youth (NFTY), held at the LAX Hilton from February 18-22.
Representing more than 300 congregations from 43 states as well as Canada, Argentina, England, and Israel, the youths honed their leadership skills at workshops, worshipped together during Shabbat services, elected new NFTY leaders, and visited the Skirball Cultural Center, the Getty Museum, and two of Los Angeles historic Reform synagogues. NFTY delegates also voted to affiliate with Netzer Olami, the Israel-based international youth movement of Progressive Jewry.
For years to come, our community will feel the impact that the 2005 NFTY Convention had on our kids, said Ellie Klein, Youth Director of Wilshire Boulevard Temple in Los Angeles, which sent a delegation to the convention.
The delegates also managed to have fun listening to concerts by Jewish rockers Dan Nichols and Billy Tiep, participating in group song sessions, reuniting with friends from the Union for Reform Judaisms 12 summer camps, and making new friends from across the continent.
I was excited because of the services, programs, and most importantly seeing friends, said NFTY delegate Rebecca Vogel. Services were amazing. The energy in the room was the most incredible energy Ive ever felt in my life, with 1300 Jewish teens singing in perfect harmony, holding their best friends hands and never wanting to leave.
Attendees got a chance to interact with Aaron Sorkin, creator of TVs The West Wing, who answered their questions about the Jewish influences on his screenwriting, as well as singer-songwriter Jill Sobule. Rabbi Lawrence Kushner, the noted author and teacher, delivered the dvar Torah during Shabbat morning services. Later that morning, Rabbi Eric H. Yoffie, President of the Union for Reform Judaism, delivered a sermon urging NFTYites to reject the values of a selfish time in America, raise their voices against injustice, and show compassion to Jews and non-Jews alike.
The Unions Youth Workers Conference, designed for adult leaders who work with youth, was held concurrent with the NFTY Convention. More than 175 youth workers attended the conference.
The Union for Reform Judaism (formerly the Union of American Hebrew Congregations) is the central body of Reform Judaism in North America, uniting 1.5 million Reform Jews in more than 900 synagogues. Union services include camps, music and book publishing, outreach to unaffiliated and intermarried Jews, educational programs, and the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism in Washington, DC.