The artwork on this note card was created by 5768 WRJ Art Calendar artist Césan d’Ornellas Levine.
We need only reach back into our ancient Jewish texts to know that throughout our history, it is the youth that carry hope for a promising future: “Your old shall dream dreams, and your youth shall see visions” (Joel 3:1) This February the RAC hopes to translate those visions into action at the Social Justice Advocacy Seminar at 2015 NFTY Convention in Atlanta.
The greatest social change in modern Jewish history was brought about by the youth--the creation of the State of Israel. Zionist youth movements made aliyah in droves in the 1920s to realize a dream of progress, hope and justice. These young pioneers built the infrastructure of the country: they drained the swamps, built the kibbutzim and created the Haganah and Palmach.
In America, Reform youth took inspiration from these great Zionist movements, and in 1939 NFTY was founded to galvanize the youth of our movement. Again and again since that beginning we have witnessed youth leading the way for change: NFTYites marching in Washington for Civil Rights in the 60s, NFTY speaking out against the war in Vietnam in the 70s, NFTYites participating in protests in support of Soviet Jewry in the 80s, and more recently, NFTY rallying to end genocide in Darfur and responding to the devastation of Hurricane Katrina in 2005 and the earthquake in Haiti 2010. This is the legacy at the heart of our youth movement: where NFTY has taken a stand, the youth have come together to push for great social change in its 75 years.
On February 13, 2015, over a thousand Jewish teens will gather for NFTY Convention in Atlanta, Georgia. Inspired by the words of Joel and the passion and conviction of our youth, the Religious Action Center is excited to offer a dedicated Social Justice Advocacy Seminar to train a new generation of NFTYites to become advocates and create change. This track will be focused on the fight to rid the world of Malaria. Since 2006, the URJ has partnered with Nothing But Nets to fight this mosquito-born infection. At the 2013 NFTY Convention, NFTY joined the fight by raising money to send bed nets and send letter urging Congress to support funding for Malaria. But there’s a long way to go.
The Social Justice Advocacy track at the 2015 NFTY Convention will continue this great work by training NFTYites to bring the fight to end Malaria home with them to educate and raise awareness in their communities and to fundraise and advocate on this important cause. This fight is as important as ever: as the medical community focuses its resources on fighting ebola in West Africa, the malaria death toll continues to rise. Malaria is completely preventable, yet a child dies every 60 seconds from the disease.
When we look back years from now, what legacy will NFTY have left behind in 2015? Respond to Judaism’s call to repair the world: join the Religious Action Center’s Social Justice Advocacy Seminar at NFTY Convention to continue the great work NFTY has already set out to accomplish in helping to rid the world of this deadly disease. Come to Atlanta and then bring this fight home with you. NFTY has a real opportunity to create meaningful, lasting change in communities around the world; as the prophet Joel might say, we share the dream, now we must achieve the vision.