Chaveirai, n'vareich! Friends, let's praise!
That is how a leader begins Birkat HaMazon, the blessing after a meal. When I think about the process that led to the publication of Birkon Mikdash M'at: NFTY's Bencher, this proclamation resonates like the beautiful walls of sound created by NFTYites and campers as they sing this blessing.
N'vareich! Let's praise NCSY and USY. Let's praise these youth groups who led their respective Movements in the creation of their Benchers. Had it not been for their leadership, I might have never been inspired from their models to create something that better reflected Reform custom and ideology. Before Birkon Mikdash M'at: NFTY's Bencher, the Reform movement did not have their own Bencher. This became the first book that provided the resources for Birkat Hamazon, songs, and other blessings in a portable package, which also authentically reflected Reform practice.
N'vareich! Let's praise the NFTY Boards that came before me. Let's praise that they had the vision to establish a special projects fund specifically designed for a NFTY Board member's project. Had it not been for that fund, this Bencher would have just been a nice idea. Instead, NFTY had the resources to pilot the first edition at the 2005 NFTY Convention in Los Angeles.
N'vareich! Let's praise the leadership of NFTY, the URJ, the CCAR Press and the URJ Press. Let's praise Rabbi Matt Soffer, Rabbi Daniel Freelander, Hope Chernak, Rabbi Eve Rudin Kleinman, Rabbi Michael Friedman, Rabbi Andrew Davids, and Rabbi Sue Ann Wasserman for putting the proper pieces in place for the Movement to reap the benefits of a joint project of sometimes territorial institutions. Had it not been for their teamwork, the Bencher may have never seen the light of day.
N'vareich! Let's praise that Birkon Mikdash M'at: NFTY's Bencher was printed and released at the 2005 URJ Biennial in Houston.
N'vareich! Let's praise the camps, NFTY regions, synagogues, and other groups that use Birkon Mikdash M'at: NFTY's Bencher. Let's praise and hold up these communities who use this Bencher to facilitate and enhance the joy of singing in groups, the ritual moments of holiday observance, and the spiritual experience of Shabbat.
N'vareich! Let's praise the future. Let's praise the teen leaders who have held up this Bencher as a model for creating meaningful change in our Movement. We do not know yet exactly how they will impact the future of Reform Judaism. But we do know what we will say as we celebrate their accomplishments:
"Please turn to page 25... Chaveirai, n'vareich! Friends, let's praise!"