TheVent, a social action convention for teens, focuses on and celebrates the ideas of modern-day Reform Judaism. Held once a year, participants travel up and down the East Coast to a different host synagogue where they spend an entire weekend with their peers embracing Jewish culture.
Sponsored by NFTY, the North American Federation of Temple Youth, TheVent promotes ideas of togetherness and friendship. Whether through prayer or song or social action, there is an outlet for everyone at TheVent to express themselves in a way that supports those ideals.
While Temple Beth Or was responsible for much of the preparations, the NFTY Regional Board also spent long hours working on activities for the weekend. Reg Bo, as it is called, includes the President of NFTY, several religious vice presidents, and the four membership vice presidents, who represent the hundreds of teens in attendance.
Each membership vice president, or MVP, is responsible for leading a sub-region — North, South, East, or West — consisting of the many NFTY-ites living in each geographic area. Working as teams, each sub-region competes against the other three in an effort to fund raise the most money, but perhaps more importantly, to win Color Wars.
Alec Siegle, senior at Leesville and Southern MVP, described Color Wars only as amazing. “People are cheering and dressed up in these elaborate costumes, singing songs at the top of their lungs,” said Siegle. “Every year it seems like the regions get more and more spirited- it’s just an incredible thing to be a part of.”
Erik Siegle, sophomore at Leesville and member of Temple Beth Or, explained the activities that take place during Color Wars. “First, all the sub-regions get together to sing our team songs and cheers. When that’s done, everybody watches the tug of war before they run off and play their own games,” said the younger Siegle.
Games range from sock wrestling to pudding eating contests to Gaga, a modern-day version of dodgeball. Winning these games, along with the tug of war and song competition, gives sub-regions points that count towards a final total to see who wins Color Wars.
Once the points are tallied, the winner is announced and the celebrations begin, mainly the social that traditionally follows Color Wars. After everyone is thoroughly exhausted, they return back to their host families, rest for the night, and set out for home early the next morning.
Alec, who has been a part of NFTY since the eighth grade, appreciates the opportunity TheVent offers. The elder Siegle said, “When you’re here, you get to do things you wouldn’t anywhere else: meeting people from all over the country, travelling wherever you do, and exploring the different communities — it’s a one-of-a-kind experience.”