This Shabbat I had a chance to spend two hours at a NFTY-SAR Kallah here in Atlanta. I left feeling really inspired. I think that’s because I had a chance to connect with some “old souls”– the NFTY-SAR song leaders.
I arrived a few minutes before an afternoon song session was about to begin. The song session was made a strong impression on me for three reasons. First, I felt a strong connection between the song leaders and the rest of the participants. Second, I appreciated how the song leaders worked so beautifully together. I couldn’t tell who, if any, was “in charge.” Third, when the song session was over there was an abrupt transition to a very serious social action themed activity. All of the song session participants that had, only a few moments earlier, been in a somewhat wild and energetic state, quickly transitioned into this very different mindset. To me this suggested that the song session (and likely the Kallah in general) had managed to establish rapport among the participants such that they wanted to move through the day’s programming as designed.
It was great to witness a group of teens that were not only open to what NFTY had to offer, but so clearly yearning for and appreciative of it.
My main purpose in stopping by the Kallah was to facilitate an hour of reflection and learning with about 10 NFTY song leaders. If the song session impressed me, the hour+ with the song leaders opened my eyes and inspired me even more.
I found the song leaders to be incredibly mature, reflective, open-minded, engaged, engaging, and honest. Our conversation covered topics ranging from the power and potential of music to the purposes and possibilities of song leading and beyond. We opened and closed our session by creating music together.
One theme that emerged during our conversation was that of the disconnect between NFTY and life more generally. We agreed that this presented both a challenge and an opportunity and thought about what from NFTY and song leading in particular might be things that other people in their lives might be seeking. Community, meaning, purpose, joy, spirituality. These were some of the things that they associated with NFTY. An interesting challenge that each of them will face is exploring if and how their peers outside of NFTY are finding these things and, if they aren’t, whether the song leaders in the room might actually have something to offer not only their fellow NFTYites but others as well.