Blog  The Next Big Thing: 2017-2019 NFTY Chicago Calendar

The Next Big Thing: 2017-2019 NFTY Chicago Calendar


Over the last few years, the lives and schedules of NFTY Chicago participants have been changing.  More and more high school and middle school teens have been unable to access some events and opportunities due to changing school calendars, conflicting family vacations, and so many other circumstances.

No teen should have to choose between missing the first few days of school and NFTY.  No teen should have to choose between studying for finals and NFTY.  No teen should have to choose between family and NFTY.  We decided that we must do something to fix our calendar and make NFTY more easily accessible. Our goals are to get more 6-12th graders involved in NFTY, better support our synagogues and youth groups, and make NFTY Chicago the best year-round Jewish experience possible for our community.

We spent several months gathering information and opinions on how best to set up our calendar. We met with groups of educators, rabbis, and youth professionals throughout the fall and winter who generated hundreds of ideas on post-it notes. The regional board gathered in January to read and organize all of the ideas we collected which helped us identify ways to make our events more open and inclusive – from the dates we put on our calendar to the ways we welcome people into our community.

We spent January and February sharing our calendar out with a representative group of teens, families, OSRUI staff, and synagogues, took in feedback (and some praise!), and came up with this final calendar, which thoughtfully combines all of the ideas and opinions we gathered into two full years of NFTY experiences. This map shows the wide range of people and places we consulted across the region in order to build out a two-year calendar that allows families and synagogues to save the date years in advance.

After all of that idea-generating and problem solving, we are sharing the calendar below which still maintains four big regional events a year, including two Kallot at OSRUI and maintaining our partnership with NFTY Northern.  Here’s what we came up with:

Kickoff – Labor Day Weekend in Chicago

Continuing the momentum of this year’s Kickoff, Kickoff will be a one-day event focused on allowing participants to explore NFTY’s yearly opportunities while enjoying an awesome big fun experience or location. Moving to September means we will truly kick off the year together!

Fall Kallah –  October @ OSRUI

Enjoy OSRUI for a weekend while the weather is still nice enough for outdoor programming and the trees are turning beautiful colors.  Learn and do social action like we do at all NFTY Kallot!

Winter Kallah – MLK Weekend in Chicago

Hang out with friends while learning and striving for social justice at this home-hosted event at a local congregation.  MLK weekend in Chicago offers many amazing social action opportunities for us to get involved with – our local synagogues do amazing justice work, and this is our opportunity to do real work with community partners.

Kolbo – April @ OSRUI

End the NFTY year the way we always do while getting to have a second OSRUI event with comfortable weather.  Spend a whole weekend learning and playing while wrapping up a great year!

Pop Up Events – All Year!

One of the best parts about this new calendar is the flexibility we have to host day-long pop up events in and around the Chicago area.  These events will be low-barrier and anything from a ski trip, to a hockey game, to a hiking opportunity at a state park.  Dates to come soon!


Over the past 15 months, several synagogues have volunteered to pilot NFTY678, our middle school youth movement. We’ve connected with so many 6-8th graders and learned a lot about how to create a NFTY space that’s unique to middle schoolers.  We want to compliment and support our middle school synagogue youth groups by hosting events every other month throughout the Chicagoland area. We will of course be hosting our annual NFTY678 Junior Youth Group Kallah at OSRUI in the spring with our friends from NFTY Northern (MN and WI).