On Labor Day, a very sunny last Monday, we hosted 250 teens and tweens from all over Chicagoland for something way fun called NFTYpalooza. NFTY, also known as the North American Federation of Temple Youth, has a local chapter called NFTY-Chicago Area, and it holds this amazing end-of-summer bash. We were proud to host NFTYpalooza this year, and we hope to do so again.
I want you to know that this experience might have quite possibly been my happiest moment as the rabbi at Emanuel. First of all, I felt overjoyed that 15 or so youth from Emanuel were present, having loads of fun. We even received a Minyan Award for participation over ten. And, then to have 250 young people, together with our local youth professionals, all having such a wonderful time inside and outside our synagogue put a huge smile on my face. In fact, the excitement of seeing all these folks next door on our neighboring beach, gave me a glimpse of what can happen when we more fully leverage our physical surroundings as a catalyst for meaningful and joyful engagement at Emanuel. And, for good measure, our newly refurbished, much improved parking lot did a great job hosting cars and providing safe passage inside for drivers and passengers alike. Nice! I am over-the-moon.
My special thanks to Naomi Segal, NFTY’s Regional Director of Youth Engagement, for choosing Emanuel as the site for NFTYpalooza and for your leadership. I hope 5959 North Sheridan will become a regular destination for regional activities. I am also grateful to our own Ellory Penner, Communications Vice President of NFTY-Chicago Area, and her fellow officers for all your hard work and hospitality. And, I also appreciate the presence of our Youth Director Brian Baren, who also grew up here at Emanuel and will make a difference in advancing our youth culture. I look forward to our progress and doing my best to shape it. And, of course, so much respect for our participating teens and tweens, and those families who support our youth movement. Kol ha-kavod!
For all those who have begun a new school year, in whatever capacity, b’hatz’la’cha, best of success!
Make it a day of blessing and be a force for good!
Rabbi Craig Marantz