This past Fall Kallah was based around the efforts to defy stereotypes and instead celebrate our individuality. Following the tragic events of World War I and II, many Jewish stereotypes re-emerged as forms of antisemitism. These stereotypes developed centuries ago and are still used today. Some of these labels are said without people knowing that they are using them. These common phrases are visual representations - “Mazel Tov”, “Shalom”, “Oy Vey”, the spoiled “Jewish American Princess”, and the often meek and nerdy “nice Jewish boy” are used to describe people and have shaped the way that our society envisions Jews today.
During Fall Kallah, we created a video using clips of NFTY members stating that they’re Jewish but they aren’t something that is seen as typically “Jewish.” The meaning of making this video was to show that we, NFTYites, are Jewish but we are not only Jewish. We are all different and individuals. It emphasizes the importance of the fact that while we do have a religion, it is not the only thing that defines us as people. When most non-Jewish people think of Judaism they, more often than not, think of the stereotypes that follow it. What we’re pushing to do is to eliminate those stereotypes with the teaching of how we are all individuals, we are all Jewish, and we are all different.
I came to Fall Kallah knowing some members, but not all. I got to know so many different types of awesome people that I never would have met if it wasn’t for the open and warm community of NFTY. We each strive to be leaders in unique ways and we do that by sharing our differences and our individualities with one another. We teach each other about new ideas, and we help each other to see the uniqueness of all Jewish teenagers. NFTY events like Fall Kallah have taught me to be Jewish and proud, and not be defined by stereotypes.
This piece was written by Rachel Kalter. Rachel a member at Jewish Family Congregation in South Salem, NY. She is serving this year as the Communications Chair for the NFTY NY Area Regional Cabinet. She is a Junior at Fox Lane High School in Westchester, NY.