The biennial NFTY Convention is open to high school students who belong to a URJ affiliated congregation or temple youth group. The convention includes dynamic programs and speakers including Jacy Good, founder of the "Hang Up and Drive" anti-texting campaign featured on Oprah; Invisible Children, former child soldiers from Northern Uganda; and URJ President Rabbi Eric H. Yoffie.
A key theme of the convention is "Make It Good Now," which encourages teens to not only plan for future action, but to take action in the present moment.
"NFTY stands for something more than just a teen social program. We work to gain an understanding of different views, take stands on issues and take action on things that we care about," said NFTY Director Rabbi Michael Mellen. Each of the 19 NFTY regions will have booths displaying what social action projects they have completed to make a difference in the past year.
Several convention programs will focus on the issue of overconsumption, the NFTY action theme for the past year. A Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism (RAC) advocacy program will explore the implications of off-shore drilling and convention-goers will visit the green-certified Dallas Cowboys Stadium. Voting delegates to the convention will select new study and action themes that revolve around the power of personal expression, and international human rights, respectively. Teens will vote on resolutions and issues such as conflict minerals and GLBTQ inclusion, and will elect a new North American Board for the 2011-2012 academic year at the NFTY General Board Meeting.
Participants will also have the opportunity to socialize with teens from all over the continent at events such as the Women for Reform Judaism (WRJ) NFTY Convention Concert Series, featuring the music of the Josh Nelson Project and Dan Nichols and Eighteen. The Josh Nelson Project is performing with the additional support of URJ's Kutz Camp. The NFTY Youth Workers Conference brings together youth workers, clergy and lay leaders of the Reform Movement to learn, network and share ideas on how to nurture and grow youth programs.
Participants will hear from illustrious speakers such as Israeli artist Hanoch Piven, who will discuss experiential learning and creative ways to work with teens and see the world through their eyes; Moving Traditions, the preeminent organization focused on Jewish teens and gender; David Bryfman and Tova Garr of the New Center for Creative Leadership, who will address how to be creative and innovative to meet the needs of 21st century youth, and Cantor Ellen Dreskin and Allan Goodis, who will conduct an intensive session on song leading.
"The Youth Workers Conference provides congregational professionals with a community in which to share best practices and opportunities to connect with teens from their congregations," said Mellen. "Having the two events concurrently makes for a dynamic and exciting atmosphere."