Every year at Spring Kallah, during the installation ceremony of the new regional board, the outgoing President delivers a “State of the Region.” The speech below is Rachel Hazan’s (NFTY-MAR President 2016-2017) “State of the Region” and was delivered at Spring Kallah 2017.
If you asked me to define the essence of NFTY-MAR in a single word it would be ruach. We are known for our ruach. Literally. On the North American level, we have the reputation of being the most spirited region; it is the root of our regional identity. One of the best parts of this year for me has been proving, over and over again, whether yelling the MAR cheer at Kutz or being the most energetic region at Convention or winning NFTY March Madness that yes, we do have the most passion and spirit. We’re the loudest and the proudest and I love it.
I love this region. It fills me with immense pride, making me smile so widely that my cheeks hurt. I could talk about MAR for hours, and I do. Many people at school will ask me how NFTY is because it’s all over my social media. NFTY-MAR has given me a place to flourish, a community to be proud to be a part of, and a purpose in high school.
Ruach is what brought me into this community. I was always a loud child, known to scream until my voice was hoarse. In MAR, I found a community where that was not only normal but accepted. My first event, 8th grade MAJYK, wasn’t the best. It was fun but I didn’t love it. Yet I saw those around me, the regional board and the MSACs, who clearly loved MAR. The spirit they had for this region inspired little 8th grade me. I wanted to love NFTY. I wanted to love it so badly that I came back, and kept coming back until I loved it. Now I’m standing here.
NFTY-MAR, you inspire me every day. Each person in this room has a different connection to this community, and each of those connections is so unique and incredibly important to shaping our community. Hearing you all reflect on this year and your connection to MAR throughout this event has made me so happy. Knowing I had even a small part in shaping this powerful, loving, accepting community that touches so many is by far my proudest accomplishment.
It is terrifying to be leaving this place and be moving on. I don’t know when I’ll find another community that I am so passionate about. MAR is where I can be my authentic self, and there are very few places in the world where this is possible. Who is to say we’ll ever experience this feeling of acceptance again? I do not know when, or if, I’ll ever find such a passionate, energized, loving group of people all in one place.
What I do know is the small moments from this journey that will stick with me for the rest of my life. Standing in front during Bedtime Shma is my favorite part of an event; watching us all sing as one unit, belting the same prayer, it’s powerful.
MAR, we are defined by our ruach and our fun and our spirit but there is immense power in that spirit. Ruach is not just our legendary dance parties, our screaming of “MAR” during Aleinu, or moshing during “Don’t Stop Believing.” Ruach is what unites us, what brings us together as one kehillah kedosha. It is what empowers us.
We sing (or belt) the line “Not by might, not by power, by spirit alone RUACH shall we all live in peace.” Our power, our might is rooted in our spirit. Ruach is what makes MAR so unique. Every region has it but we truly display it in full force. It is a rallying force that compels us to act, moves us forward and upwards. 200 whispers joined in unison is a few voices strong. 200 screams of passion is a force of change. NFTY-MAR, we are a force of change.
NFTY-MAR, it has been an honor to serve as your President this past year. Thank you for letting me do what I love every day of my senior year. Thank you to every single one of you for impacting my life. Thank you for giving me a place to be my true goofy, slightly awkward, happy-go-lucky self. I am forever indebted to this community and how it’s shaped me.