NFTY-GER Teens Make a Difference in their Communities

Posted on January 9, 2019

NFTY is steeped in a rich history of social activism. We are commanded by our faith and urged by tradition to continuously seek to improve our world. The values of tikkun olam and tzedek are some of the fundamental pillars of our organization. The great Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. stressed the extraordinary power that a group of passionate people possesses. Together, with our brimming enthusiasm and staunch resolve, we can accomplish incredible things. NFTY-GER teens proved this to be true this past weekend.

On Saturday, teens from around the NFTY-GER region came together for Mitzvah Day with AETY at Anshe Emeth Memorial Temple. Participants learned about hunger and homelessness in New Brunswick, working with Elijah’s Promise to make applesauce, prepare silverware bundles, and learn about creating a sustainable food system to reduce hunger in New Jersey. Elijah’s Promise is one of the work sites for Urban Mitzvah Corps, a program to which NFTY-GER has a strong connection.Temple Beth-El‘s youth group, SMOOCHY, took some time to help our environment. Shayna Friedman, SMOOCHY’s president, recounts the experience: “This past weekend SMOOCHY teens traveled to the beach in Long Branch, New Jersey and worked together to clean up trash. Together we were able to fill about five bags with trash littered on the beach. We also learned about the harm that trash on the beach and in the ocean can cause to sea animals. It was a great day and I feel like we really made a difference.” With climate change on the forefront of the news every day, these teens found a way to contribute to the solution in a tangible way!

Temple Ner Tamid‘s youth group, NuTTY, has been really energized around the topic of gun violence prevention. This weekend, the group began making orange para-cord bracelets to raise awareness on the topic of gun violence. Sarah Grossier, NuTTY Board member, says, “We came up with the idea after the shooting at Tree of Life Synagogue and we wanted to find a way to help. Lots of people at our temple wear these bracelets so we plan to sell them at religious school and donate the funds to victims of gun violence.” What a great way to bring one of NFTY’s program priorities home to their congregation!

In the midst of holiday shoppers at Target, Temple B’nai Jeshurun teens walked the aisles, stocking their carts full of travel-sized toothbrushes, deodorants, razors, and snacks. These items were not for their upcoming Thanksgiving trips, though. The teens were searching for the most useful and price-effective items to distribute on next month’s Midnight Run in New York City. During the Midnight Run, more than 20 others will hand out essential items to those in need in NYC.

NFTY-GER is so proud of its participants for embodying the 13 Principles of NFTY, including tzedek, tikkun olam, and kehilah. Has your youth group done something amazing to repair the world lately? Share it with us so we can lift up your success!

Originally published November 20, 2018 on the NFTY blog,

Reprinted with permission in the January-February 2019 issue of the Shofar. For more issues of the Shofar, visit the Shofar archives.