NFTY stands for the North American Federation of Temple Youth, which is a youth group for Jewish teens, under the Union for Reform Judaism. We are part of the Missouri Valley Region. Junior Youth Group (JYG), is our section of NFTY for 7th and 8th graders. The notes in this post are written by current members of NFTY, 9th through 12th grade, all of whom attended JYG. These are their thoughts on JYG and the impact that it had on them, as well as the extreme benefits that are a result of attending a Junior Youth Group event. Enjoy!
Two Februarys ago, I attended my first JYG event. As an 8th grader, I knew that I wanted to be involved with some type of Jewish youth group, but I didn’t know whether to do NFTY or BBYO. JYG made me realize that NFTY was the right choice for me.
When I went, I had a few friends from my TYG with me. By the time I left, I had so many new friends who I couldn’t wait to spend the next four years with. Not only did I make friends who were my age, but I also met high schoolers who were a part of NFTY. Getting to know them before my freshman year made the transition from JYG to high school NFTY conventions easier and more comfortable. Additionally, the people that were high schoolers at my JYG are now both my friends and role models.
Besides making friends, JYG made me want to dive deeper into my religion and learn more about Judaism. The services were interesting, and listening to a room full of your peers all singing prayers together is one of the most amazing things in the world to me. Other than the services, all of the programs that were led during the event were super fun and interesting. During every program, you got to work with a new group of people, and meet new people which was really cool. Overall, JYG helped me make new friends from all over the midwest, want to learn more about Judaism, and made me realize how great NFTY is.
– Alexis, NFTY UH Membership Vice President, sophomore, St. Louis, MO
NFTY Junior Youth Group chavurah is a great way to meet other Jewish middle schoolers and bond over a weekend. JYG was my first NFTY experience. In 7th grade, I went to Saint Louis and met so many amazing people and started to build my new NFTY community. I made friends who I am still close with today, three years later. JYG and all of NFTY has taught me so many new communication and social skills, that help me connect with people in new ways. NFTY is also a way to learn leadership and other important social skills that translate into daily life. Events like this help you meet the amazing and welcoming people that make up NFTY Missouri Valley.
– Cecelia, Sophomore, Boulder, CO
My first NFTY event was JYG, Junior Youth Group Chavurah, when I was an 8th grader. My brother had told me I had to go and I would have so much fun. When I went I knew a couple people from temple (TYG) and left knowing so many more people. The people I met, middle schoolers and high schoolers, I talk to almost every day and o and visit and hang out with them. At JYG I made some many memories and had so much fun that I continued NFTY as a high schooler. JYG has opened the doors for me for high school with NFTY and made me a better person and help me dive deeper into my religion. Even though I haven’t been in NFTY for a while it already feels like a second family and the experiences and memories I have made so far, from JYG and NFTY in high school, I will never forget.
– Charlye, Freshman, Denver, CO
My very first NFTY event was my 8th grade JYG Chavurah. My sister had been in NFTY for a number of years and had convinced me to attend this event. I will always be grateful to my sister for making me come because NFTY has changed my life. Ever since that event I have gone to nearly every Chavurah that I’ve been eligible for. I’ve missed dances, rehearsals, and countless plans to spend time with my favorite Jewish community. JYG is such a great introduction to what NFTY really is. It allows you to get a sneak peek of the magic that NFTY brings to every kid, while still being able to stay near your comfort zone with people your age. I love NFTY and I love JYG!
– Emily, senior, Kansas City
My first NFTY event was my JYG chavurah in 8th grade. Going into the event, I knew one person and we weren’t even that close. I was extremely nervous because I wanted to be accepted into the NFTY community and I wasn’t sure if that was going to happen. Low and behold, by the time we went back to our host homes on Friday night, I had already made friends from other states who would end up being extremely close to me and some of the best people I know. Additionally, at JYG I looked up to the high schoolers that were there. All the high schoolers were leaders in our NFTY community and from that point I decided that I wanted to be a leader as well. JYG gave me exposure to everything that a leader is and can be and was a huge factor in helping me receive the leadership roles I have had.
JYG is an unbelievable event and really helps in the forming a foundation for the love of NFTY. Without JYG I would never have been able to experience this amazing NFTY community and without NFTY I would be a completely different person. JYG can be life changing.
– Julian, Regional Membership Vice President, senior, St. Louis, MO
In the 7th grade, I went to my first JYG event knowing only the people in my youth group. My older cousins had told me of their amazing time at every JYG and NFTY event, and I decided to go. When i first got to the Temple, I was so nervous that all my friends would meet new people, that I wouldn’t be accepted, and that I would just have an awful time. But in the first few hours, I was introduced to so many awesome people like the welcoming Regional Board, and many people in the NFTY community. That year, I made some of my best friends, who I now attend NFTY events with to this day. Going to JYG Chaverah really brought me out of my shell while giving me a sneak peak at the years ahead. I learned a lot going to JYG events, and it gave me the opportunity to have such a strong connection with NFTY. I never feel out of place or excluded, and there is always someone to connect with!
– Lucy, Freshman, Denver, CO