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No Longer Rivals

Read this story in the Jewish News of Greater Phoenix Online

Throughout my high school career, NFTY (the North American Federation of Temple Youth) and BBYO have always been rivals.

This past summer, I was lucky enough to attend the Union for Reform Judaism's Kutz Camp, the summer home of the NFTY Leadership Experience, when the camp and BBYO International Kallah joined together for the first time to participate in a very large Maccabiah. I instantly made connections with the BBYO kids, and by the end of the day, we had established that no longer would there be an intense dislike for each other and we could all just get along. It was one thing for the two groups to work together on the national level, but I doubted it could ever happen on the regional level, let alone in my home state.

Earlier this month, NFTY-Southwest and BBYO Mountain Region came together for the first-ever Hanukkah party between the two organizations. At first, I was very hesitant and did not know if it would actually work. But when all was finished, NFTY and BBYO were brought together: We were all on the dance floor, singing and dancing with our closest friends.

The event kicked off with some lovely dancing and some socializing. Next, we all came together for a wonderful Havdallah led by Cody Rosen, NFTY-SW religious and cultural vice president and a member of Temple Chai; David Setton, BBYO Mountain Region s'gan (vice president); and myself.

Watching both organizations finally come together as one Jewish community really inspired me that this totally can happen. We may be different organizations on the outside, but we are all Jewish teenagers who just want to hang out and have fun.

After Havdallah, I joined Jordan Weissman of Temple Solel, who is the NFTY-SW membership vice president, and Mallory Lakin, BBYO Mountain Region morah, to lead a mixer called The Voice, where we split up into groups to create new words to a song that had to deal with Hanukkah and to coordinate dance moves. With the performances being laugh-out-loud funny, we got the chance to be creative and get to know other teenagers in the Valley.

Although we started out as two big groups, we began to form one giant community. I was so very impressed with the Hanukkah party overall, and I am so glad that I could be a part of it.

As BBYO's Setton and Spencer Winson, NFTY-SW president and member of Temple Chai, put it: "We may be two different organizations, but this party proves that we can get along and we can work together."

Matt Wall is the NFTY-Southwest programming vice president and a member of Temple Kol Ami.

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