Blog  After NFTY Convention, GER Teens Debrief with In-flight Interviews

After NFTY Convention, GER Teens Debrief with In-flight Interviews

Josh Leighton serves as the Rabbi for the Jewish Congregation of Kinnelon in Kinnelon/Pompton Lakes, NJ. He is a member of the CCAR, serves on the faculty at URJ Camp Harlam, and is part of the NFTY-GER Clergy Team. Rabbi Josh is a proud alum of NFTY-GER.

At the end of any NFTY event, especially on the ride home, NFTY-GER teens are always torn between being super excited after a great few days with their friends, and being completely exhausted from non-stop action and a severe lack of sleep. After NFTY Convention, these feelings are exponentially amplified. As it turns out, even in our state of exhaustion, the plane ride home from NFTY Convention is a great time to get candid, instant feedback from the teens, and even youth professionals. As many NFTY-GER teens and advisors shared a flight home from Atlanta, I took the opportunity to conduct a few “NFTY-GER In-Flight Interviews.”

I asked the following questions:

1) What will you miss most about NFTY Convention 2015?

2) What are you bringing home from NFTY Convention? Below are our answers:


“I will miss seeing all off my amazing friends that I know through URJ Kutz Camp, NFTY-EIE, and Crane Lake Camp. At convention I was able to make and continue so many friendships that I will truly miss. I will bring home wonderful lessons that I was taught during the learning blocks. I will also bring home hundreds of connections and friendships I have made from around the country.”

– Wendy Starr, 16, Junior, SHATY


“I will miss the amount of enthusiasm that I saw every day from each region. I will miss the meeting new people, and being in a room with 1000 NFTY-ites. I’m bringing home memories that I will always remember, ideas that have inspired me, and friendships that will never cease to amaze me.”

– Chanel Shirazi, 16, Junior, BETY


“I am going to miss the hundreds of NFTY kids from around the country who I had the chance to meet and spend one of the most amazing weekends of my life with. I am bringing home the memories of partying with GER at the Dan Nichols concert, the memories of staying up late with my cool west coast roommates, and all that NFTY has taught me in these past five days.”

– Joshua Stern, 18, Senior, GRSHY


“I’m going to miss meeting all the new people and having a great time with people from all over the country! I am bringing back my experiences, stories, and a further knowledge of Jewish heritage and ways.”

– Aidan Spencer, 16, Junior, BETY


“My favorite part of NFTY convention was learning about the traditions and practices in other NFTY regions, and interacting with people from all of those regions.

I am also bringing home a stronger appreciation for the hard work it takes to make a NFTY event happen.”

– Marlee Waldman, 18, Senior, EESY


“I will miss all of the new friends that I made and all of the old ones that I got to see again.

I’ve learned many new traditions, and will continue to work with my youth group to raise awareness about gun violence prevention.”

– Camden Beinhaker, 14, Freshman, TEWTY


“Over the past four days I have compiled pages of notes and ideas to bring home to my synagogue and TYG. NFTY convention, while being completely exhausting, re-ignited the flame that keeps me going during the year. And of course I will bring home great memories.

– Dan Merer, 22, Advisor, SMOOCHY


On a personal note, the Youth Summit was five immersive days of learning, laughing and growing. I will miss seeing so many amazing and devoted youth professionals and working together, each day, to help and inspire each other. I will also miss seeing the excitement and pride in the faces of a thousand NFTYites.

I am bringing home new skills and tools for managing and inspiring change in my community. After the Youth Summit and NFTY Convention, I am coming home energized and motivated to create a youth program with the teens in my community.