By Shir Attias, NFTY-SW Religious and Cultural Vice-President
There is no doubt that the Jewish holidays are a special time for NFTY-ites. The Jewish holidays bring matzah ball soup and phones flooded with texts and facebook posts wishing you a “Chag Sameach.” Yet, this feeling is perhaps strongest during Hanukkah, when– unlike the rest of the Jewish holidays (and yes there are a lot)– Target has a Jewish section just for us, and the whole world is aware of our celebrations.
Hanukkah is the Festival of Lights, celebrating both the miracle of the oil and that of the Maccabee’s victory. Hanukkah itself translates to “dedication” and, as a region, NFTY Southwest decided to dedicate ourselves to spreading our light a little further this Hanukkah. Thus began the Spread the Light Book Drive, aimed at channeling the sense of community that we feel during the Jewish holidays into social action.
Each Temple Youth Group (TYG) throughout the region had the opportunity to choose an organization to donate to, collaborating with their TYG advisors, teen leaders, and congregations. Together, NFTY Southwest collected over 750 books, spreading our light to families and children across Arizona, New Mexico, and Nevada. Together, we worked to use the sense of community we experience as NFTY-ites to truly make a difference in our greater communities around the region. I’m incredibly excited to extend a warm congratulations to the following TYGs and congregations:
BITY and Congregation Beth Israel in Scottsdale, Arizona collected over 175 books for Southwest Human Development, a nonprofit based in Phoenix dedicated to early childhood development and ensuring the future of children in Arizona.
BSTY and Temple Beth Shalom in Santa Fe, New Mexico collected over 85 books for Bookworms New Mexico.
KATY and Temple Kol Ami donated to over 175 children at the Love House for Kids, an organization in Arizona which provides services for children removed from their houses because of abuse or neglect, combining their efforts for the Spread the Light Drive wit their annual Toy Drive.
NTTY and Temple Ner Tamid of Las Vegas, Nevada collected over 170 books for Spread the Word Nevada, a children’s literacy nonprofit dedicated to advancing early childhood literacy by placing books within Southern Nevada’s at-risk, low income homes.
And finally, TCTY and Temple Chai of Phoenix, AZ collected over 150 books for Southwest Human Development.
Congratulations NFTY Southwest. Together, we made Hanukkah more than latkes and dreidels by truly impacting our communities. I can only imagine what else we are capable of. Yasher Koach!