What is the North American Federation of Temple Youth (NFTY)?
NFTY is a movement. For over seventy years, the North American Federation of Temple Youth (NFTY) has offered thousands of young people the opportunity to explore and live Reform Judaism.
NFTY is a safe space to build identity. Today, over 450 Reform congregations throughout North America sponsor Temple Youth Groups, bringing the NFTY experience to more than 10,000 high school-age young people in grades 9-12. Through involvement opportunities offered by congregations, our 19 NFTY regions, and on the North American level, NFTYites strive to forge an identity in consonance with the goals and values of Reform Judaism.
NFTY is an organization that is teen-driven with adult support. There is a healthy balance between those aspects of NFTY that are youth-led and those that are directed by its adult advisors. NFTY is an affiliate of the Union for Reform Judaism.
NFTY is a community for Reform Jewish high school students. NFTYites forge and build friendships, lifelong Reform Jewish identities, and leadership skills through community building, worship, social action, and experiential youth-led Jewish educational programming. Many NFTYites serve as NFTY leaders on the local TYG, regional, and even North American levels. Many NFTY Leaders continue on to become both lay and professional leaders of the Reform Jewish Movement.
What do you do in NFTY?
NFTY’s heart and soul is the local URJ synagogue Temple Youth Group (TYG). While each local TYG differs in organization, focus, size, and character, the Temple Youth Group is the outlet for the highly engaged Reform Jewish teenager in a URJ Synagogue. While some TYG’s only meet 5 times a year for social programs, many TYG’s meet over 20 times each school year and offer a full variety of social, leadership, educational, and social action programs.
TYG’s are linked together by geographic region into NFTY’s 19 regions. While each NFTY Region is somewhat unique in character, program, and traditions, each NFTY Region runs leadership training for local TYG’s, as well as a series of camp, hotel, or home-hospitality based conclaves or institutes that focus on Jewish themes, building community, worship, and social action for general NFTY Membership.
The 19 Regions are, in turn, joined together on the North American Level. North American NFTY events and programs include the Summer NFTY Leadership Academy at the URJ Kutz Camp, NFTY Mechina - leadership training and board meeting for newly elected regional board members - held every June at the URJ Kutz Camp, a Mid-year February board meeting held at the URJ Kutz Camp, NFTY in Israel Programs, and the Biennial NFTY Convention.
At NFTY events, you can:
• Engage in youth-led services
• Mingle and meet new people during original and fun mixers
• Discuss Hot Topics from a Jewish perspective with your peers
• Immerse in meaningful Social Action projects and programs
• Meet other Reform Jewish teens from all over North America
So…Why Should I Come?
Each event involves Jewish teenagers from all across your region or North America. Sound intimidating? Every event is someone's first event. Even if you are a senior, it is never too late to start coming. Get involved! All activities are planned by Jewish teenagers (just like you) for Jewish teenagers (just like you). Think of it as a weekend that’s entire purpose is to engage you, challenge you and make you have fun!
NFTY is unique because it is youth driven. A team of high school leaders works with a regional staff member to make each event better than the last. At NFTY, you will dive into topics and activities that you do not get the opportunity to explore anywhere else. Through these thought-provoking programs, new teen-written and led services, and original and fun mixers, you will meet friends that will last a lifetime. The magic of NFTY is indescribable, as it truly gives you a place to be yourself.
For many Reform Jewish teens across North America, NFTY is one of the few places to be exclusively with other Jews. It is a holy community that provides a comfortable space for everyone.
NFTY's 13 Principles
TORAH - תורה
A commitment to God and Torah as a means of inter- and intra-personal fulfillment;
THE JEWISH PEOPLE – AM YISRAEL – ישראל עם
The unity of the Jewish People;
THE STATE OF ISRAEL – MEDINAT YISRAEL - ישראל מדינת
The centrality of the State of Israel to the strength and survival of the Jewish People;
HEBREW – IVRIT - עברית
The importance of the Hebrew language as a vital component to the strength of the Jewish People;
HISTORY – MIDOR L’DOR – לדור מדור
The recognition that in order to fully appreciate our present and ensure our future we must strive to understand our past;
PLURALISM – KOL YEHUDIM - יהודים כל
The acceptance and encouragement of alternate modes of Jewish experience;
FUN AND SPIRIT – KEF v’RUACH – ורוח כיף
The importance of fun and spirit as foundations of our movement;
JUSTICE – TZEDEK - צדק
The obligation to work for justice for all;
TO LEARN AND TO DO – NILMAD V’NA’ASEH - ונעשה נלמד
The necessity of lifelong Jewish learning and teaching as a foundation for our observance through a life of continual discovery of Jewish tradition, law and ethics;
SELF – TIKKUN MIDDOT – מידות תיקון
The understanding that we are to be a light unto the nations by fostering an environment where every individual can meet and exceed their potential as Jews and citizens of the world;
COMMUNITY – KEHILAH - קהילה
The need for community to provide an outlet for the individual needs of all Jews;
REPAIRING THE WORLD - TIKKUN OLAM – עולם תיקון
The obligation to repair the world;
PARTNERSHIP – SHUTAFUT - שותפות
The need and desire to work together to foster each individual’s connection and commitment to ensuring the vibrancy of our movement.