This summer, a number of NFTY-MAR teens participated in a variety of URJ Summer Experiences. We asked a few teens to share with us a highlight of their experience and how their summer will help impact their year in NFTY. Below is a blog post, written by Lindsay Morgenstein, who attended the URJ Kutz Camp.
I spent this summer at the URJ Kutz Camp in Warwick, New York in the Social Action Major. While there, we take a trip to New York City. When it was finally time to go, my teacher, Avra, announced our trip day activity would be feeding the elderly at a community center. I was disappointed. Other majors were going to have fun, but I was stuck feeding the elderly! I couldn’t think of one good result.
The next day at the community center, we were escorted to a large dining hall. Our job was to take order tickets and retrieve meals from the lunch counter. After lunch, we were instructed to socialize. I stumbled over to a table with an elderly gentleman. I sat down and started a conversation, expecting it to quickly fizzle out. I asked questions and was greeted with a slew of witty and sweet life stories. He told me about his first crush, a petite girl with blonde hair. At school, he kissed her cheek and was slapped by a teacher. 17 years later, he returned to the country he had fled before World War II and knocked on her door. By a stroke of luck, he found her, took her on a date, and said “Years ago I was slapped for kissing you, may I try again?” 40 years later, he still has a twinkle in his eye whenever he talks about her.
After leaving his table, I cried. I had discounted an entire group of people before I had even really met them. I then understood what Avra had told us every day–to remember the danger of a single story, to never believe one perspective. For me, it became vital to hear every story before making a judgment.
He never told me his name. He will always be the unexpected old man who changed everything. He reminds me of MAR. Over a few days, we each share a bit of ourselves. If we go into every event without an idea of what someone is “supposed” to be like, we can cherish and embrace our differences and form an even stronger community. Doing this just might change your life; I know it changed mine.