As every parent knows, when your child’s heart is bursting for joy, yours is, too. When your child’s heart is bursting for joy in anticipation before an event occurs, you’ve scored a gold mine. We’re at the “gold mine” level right now, as our daughter Shelby counts down to the upcoming NFTY Convention 2015 in Atlanta, Georgia! As I write this, the convention is just under four months away.

The 2015 convention will be Shelby’s second NFTY Convention; her first was in Los Angeles two years ago. Shelby is now a senior, and has attended almost every regional kallah since becoming a member in ninth grade. She has attended NFTY’s Kutz Camp in Warwick, New York, the past three summers (and pretty much has never wanted to leave!) and is planning to apply to be a staff member in-training this coming summer.

Words cannot begin to describe the incredible impact NFTY has had on Shelby.  But I will try.  To Shelby, NFTY means “home.”  NFTY is a place where she can totally be herself and spread her wings.  Where she can experience everything from laughter to tears, and feel safe in any mode.  Where she can fully embrace her Jewish spirituality and define for herself what she’s comfortable with, without judgment from anyone.

by Julie Marsh

Many people wonder about the “magic” of NFTY, the power to bring teenagers together, create a holy community, and create lasting relationships. As a regional advisor, I am often asked how, when, and who creates that NFTY “magic.” To many, these questions are complicated, and to be honest, when it comes to my Florida region, NFTY-Southern Tropical Region (NFTY-STR), the answers are simple. The success and “magic” of NFTY-STR is the result of a vast support network. The adage, “It takes a village” could not be truer for us. Our NFTY-STR village is made up of NFTYites, alumni, congregations, and additional stakeholders who we have welcomed into our community over the years.