Hineini, here I am. In February, 2015 at NFTY Convention, NFTY passed a resolution focusing NFTY’s study on the strength of the individual. It stems from the Hebrew word hineini, meaning “Here I am” which is found in Genesis with Abraham’s declaration to G-D that he was there and ready to act. As teens and really as people, especially in the Jewish community, we are constantly told that one person can change the world, that each one of us has the power to enact change and make a difference. During Social Action Weekend this February, NFTY Southwest proved that power valid and strong.
After joining together at Congregation Beth Israel, NFTY Southwest participants headed in their separate directions for a day filled with social action projects in the Phoenix area. About 50 participants headed to Larkspur Elementary, a Title I elementary school in Phoenix. There, NFTY SWites were able to give the students at Larkspur Elementary an incredible field day event, one that would not have been possible for the school without the help of so many individuals. The rest of us headed to Project Cure, an organization that packages and donates medical supplies to developing countries around the world. We worked hard throughout the morning and truly enjoyed our time helping organize and package the supplies that come through Project Cure. From there, the 50 of us headed to St. Mary’s Food Bank for an afternoon that truly reaffirms the Power of the Individual.
For just two hours, we worked to package Emergency Food Boxes, packaging 16 pallets of food for families facing food insecurity in Arizona. Simultaneously, a group of SWites worked at the Large Family line, packaging 1440 bags of food.
Together we packaged 22,080 lbs of Food. In Arizona, the average weight of a meal for a food insecure family (to where food from St. Mary’s food bank is sent) is .5 lbs per meal. Which means that together we packaged 44,160 meals.
44,160 meals. And all it took was two hours and 50 individuals.
This is the power of the individual. This is what we mean when we say Hineini. Together, we exercised this power of the individual, creating an incredibly empowering moment for our community in NFTY Southwest. Throughout the entire weekend, it was evident how empowered our region is and how strongly NFTY Southwest values the individual’s ability to contribute to the community. Whether it was eagerly learning about the world around us during Shabbat morning services, exploring what we can do it to further the cause of gun violence prevention, singing the night away in karaoke, or going out and making a difference in our community, NFTY Southwest truly embodied our values during Social Action Weekend, doing each action with an infectious ruach (spirit) and passion. Yasher Koach, NFTY Southwest: here’s to continuing to foster the Power of the Individual as one spirited community.