By Jordan Feinberg, NFTY-SW Membership Vice President
Only a few weeks ago, I walked out of my cabin at the URJ Kutz Camp, where I had spent the past 28 days of my life. I had no idea what to expect as I transitioned from summer camp to a NFTY North American event while still at the same location. From the very beginning, I was immersed in a realm of leadership opportunities suited for each individual that had attended the event. I began my day leading mixers, a bubble party, and Israeli dancing for all of the incoming Mechina participants. Throughout the day, I was reunited with friends from not just my region, but from all over North America. They all possessed different skills to offer the community and loads of excitement for the next few days. We engaged in mixer questions at dinner to get to know our peers then a program educating us on the history of the URJ Kutz Camp.
Then, we went into network time, which happened to be my favorite part of the event. In the Membership Vice President (MVP) network, led by Jake Forstein, North American MVP, I not only bonded with my network and group binged on our favorite snacks, but learned techniques that would help me become a better leader for my region and community. We learned about so many topics including how to command a room, led by NFTY legends Evan Traylor, Ione Heigham, and more. We worked with past NFTY North American Board members, different regional directors, and the Managing Director of NFTY, Beth Rodin. Throughout MVP network time, we learned how to improve our middle school programming, improve our inclusivity, and much more. We also took a deep dive into the statistics of each region’s attendance, categorized by event type, year, grade, etc. and discussed what this meant for the future of our movement.
Aside from network time and educational programming, Mechina created a space where leaders could collaborate on work and could also build connections. Mechina was filled with teens from all over North America. I met some of the most amazing people, was able to reconnect with my North American friends, get closer with those in my region, and bond with my MVP network. At Mechina 2019, I met so many fantastic people that I know will always be there for me. When I’m out of mixer ideas, or want to create a spreadsheet with all of the 2020 presidential election candidates, or if I just need someone to brighten my day, I can refer back to those that I met, from California to Canada to New Jersey to Florida. I will know that those are my people.
Mechina provided its participants with teen led activities, leadership opportunities, a space to make friends, and wonderful programming. Mechina allowed us to explore what leadership means to us on a personal level and not just by the textbook definition. While writing this in my room the day after Mechina ended, I can wholeheartedly say that this event made me a better leader, graced me with a network of people to collaborate with, and a new understanding of what leadership means. After attending the URJ Kutz Camp and Mechina, I am ending my summer with clarity, knowledge, and drive to serve my region.
Find your place as a leader in your synagogue, state, or across North America. Learn professional skills and explore your passions that help you stand out and lead, no matter where life takes you. Work with mentors, take local action, and make friends and memories that will last a lifetime! Click here to get started!