Spark Note: NFTY-SAR & The One on Zoom

NFTY is a movement that builds strong, welcoming, inspired communities through teen-powered engagement. Together, we pursue tikkun olam, personal growth, youth empowerment, and deep connections, all rooted in Reform Judaism. NFTY’s Southern Area Region includes South Carolina; Georgia; Charlotte, NC; Chattanooga, TN; Montgomery, AL; Jacksonville, FL; and Tallahassee, FL.  

When we realized that Spring Kallah would not be happening as we intended it, we were shocked. Our plans for closure with our four years in NFTY were changed drastically in an instant. Leah, the current Religious and Cultural Vice President of NFTY-SAR, and Sarah, the current President of NFTY-SAR, along with the rest of the board, knew that we had to finish our terms to the best of our abilities.

The planning process was very different from what we were used to. We partnered with next year’s recently elected regional board to plan programs and create experiences which would translate virtually. As we began our planning process a lot of questions came to mind. What does a virtual kallah look like?  What are people expecting?  How do we still feel the love and strength of our community via Zoom? These questions were our driving force as we began planning the weekend-long virtual experience. We quickly found the balance between content-rich and simply fun programs. The program plans were solid, but we knew we needed to do something more to bring this all together. 

Adam Griff, our Regional Director came up with the idea of sending everyone an “event in a box,” a way to still give everyone some of the tangible things they’d normally get at an event. This is where our partners at JumpSpark came in! JumpSpark agreed to help sponsor our  “event in a box” idea seeing that it would help keep the NFTY-SAR community strong. With that support, we began creating the boxes for the 150 registered participants. We featured unboxing videos from our participants on our Instagram, showcasing how ecstatic they felt to receive the box, which not only contained a tshirt, name tag, and supplies for programming, but also a handwritten note from a board member. The senior class also received a gift to commemorate their time in NFTY. 

As soon as we blinked, our Virtual Spring Kallah was here, ready or not! The weekend was a huge success! Over 120 people participated in most of the weekend’s programs and services. Activities included making bird feeders, baking, and an engaging Israel program (just to name 3 of the over 30 different activities planned). Although this was not at all how we envisioned our last event, seniors were still honored in a beautiful Havdallah service and our senior circle speech tradition. 

In the end, all of our hard work was completely worth it when we got to hear about how much SARites loved participating. Jennah Brill, a Junior from Tallahassee said “I still felt really connected…the programs were really well put together and they flowed well too!” We are so grateful to JumpSpark for allowing us to put on the virtual event we dreamed of executing, and are so proud of all of the work our teen leaders put in to plan the weekend.

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