Shaker Heights High School senior Josh Shankman, a member of Temple Emanu El in Orange, recently was elected president of National Federation of Temple Youth Northeastern Lakes region, which covers Cleveland; Erie, Pa.; northern New York state; and Ontario, Canada.

He talked with the Cleveland Jewish News about his goals as president.

CJN: How were you elected as the regional president? What were the qualifications?

JOSH: I was elected by a vote of the different youth members and temple youth groups in our region. My qualifications include serving on the regional board as the programming vice president last year, two years on my temple youth group’s board and extensive participation in NFTY events, both on the regional and North American levels.

CJN: How did you become involved with NFTY?

JOSH: I became involved with NFTY through my temple’s youth group. After being encouraged both by my sister (who also served as regional president three years ago) and the older members of my youth group, I went to my first regional event and just continued from there.

CJN: What are you hoping to accomplish during your presidency?

JOSH: My goal as President is primarily to help expand the leadership opportunities for more participants in our region who may not have an explicit title as a board member at their temple. I want to focus on developing more leaders within our region so that we continue to have strong leaders in our youth group in the future.

CJN: Why should children and teens get involved in NFTY?

JOSH: Children and teens should get involved in NFTY for numerous reasons. NFTY possesses an incredible community and a space where one can truly learn to be themself. Nearly everyone is able to find a comfort ability within NFTY that is hard to find elsewhere. In addition, it is a great place to connect with other Jewish teens not only from your own city but also other cities in your region, expanding your Jewish network of friends. Finally, NFTY also is a very effective space to develop leadership skills and other useful skills for future endeavors.

CJN: What are some of your hobbies?

JOSH: I love to play baseball and spend a ton of time playing and training. In addition, I work at a rock-climbing gym and love to spend time outside and with friends. I also collect sports trading cards.

CJN: What is your favorite movie?

JOSH: Right now my favorite movie is probably “Black Panther” But “Coco” is a close second.

CJN: What is your favorite food?

JOSH: I think my favorite food is probably sushi.


Ally Benjamin is the Irving I. Stone Editorial Intern at the Cleveland Jewish News.

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