Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Only in NFTY

Today I was reminded of how lax I was in writing about the eight miracles of Chanukah in our modern world. Tonight, however, I witnessed one that was worth all the others I skipped.
Tonight is the third night of NFTY-STR's Winter Regional convention. Every year teens from all over South Florida gather for four days of programming led by their regional board. Every year on the third night they run a program called "STR Search," which is basically a talent show. The first act tonight was a senior girl who I have seen sing four years in a row. She is a good singer who, bluntly put, thinks she's great. She gets a little too loud and a lot too close to the microphone. She also happens to be a high functioning autistic child, so nobody minds. As an adult, I think it is great to let her sing away. I know that she has issues but she loves to express herself in song, so I tolerate her. But here's the miracle: the high school kids to whom she sings. The self-focused, apathetic, materialistic kids who don't want to do anything but feed their desires, they don't just tolerate her. They love her.

When she sings, they sing along, they hoot encouragingly, and they cheer while she pushes through difficult parts of the song. When she finishes, they give her a standing ovation. It was so beautiful, I felt tears forming. But I wasn't alone. A quick glance around the advisors sitting in the back taught me that I was not alone by far.

These kids at NFTY-STR are an incredible miracle. They make me proud to work with them, proud to do what I do, and consistently impressed by the vast amounts of compassion they are capable of.

Thank you, NFTY-STR. You are the best gift I have gotten this Chanukah.

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