Faith Snyderman Honored with Ben Topus Award
The passion and energy Temple Micah's Faith Snyderman brings to regional Jewish youth group events has earned her the prestigious Ben Topus Award.
Faith was honored by the North American Federation of Temple Youth Mid-Atlantic Region at Spring Kallah, the final NFTY-MAR event of the year.
A familiar face at Temple Micah since she was a child, Faith is now a senior at Edmund Burke School and is active in Jewish life, particularly in regional youth group events.
The Ben Topus award is one of the greatest honors given to a graduating student. As former regional officers of NFTY-MAR, we have been tasked with helping to select previous recipients. That Faith won this award speaks volumes about who she is and how much she brings to the people around her.
The award was created in 2004 in memory of Ben Topus. Ben passed away suddenly just days after his high school graduation in 2003. Though he had no interest in formal leadership, Topus was very active in NFTY-MAR; he was a unifying figure in the region, constantly introducing himself to new members and sharing his excitement for NFTY and Judaism with everyone around him.
The award recognizes one outstanding graduating senior who honors Ben's legacy. According to Alexa Broida, advisor of NFTY-MAR: "We look for a senior who has not held a formal leadership role, who is passionate, positive, and brings wonderful energy and ruach to events." Broida continues, "...someone who goes out of their way to include others, be nice to others, and go above and beyond just being a participant to help make MAR the region that it is."
Former Temple Micah Youth Director Danny Moss said, "In the three years I have worked at Micah, Faith has consistently impressed me with her sweet and giving disposition, her love of Judaism, and of course, her beautiful voice." Moss went on, "It does not surprise me to know that she won this award; in fact, I can think of no more qualified recipient."
When asked about winning the award, Faith said: "I was stunned when I won... there are so many deserving people who could have gotten it. But why me? I'm just being me, no more, no less. But am I still floored and extremely honored to have received this? Absolutely."
Faith's participation in NFTY was a happy accident. Her mom signed her up for her first event against her will. "I went to my first event kicking and screaming," Snyderman explains, "I didn't know many people, but I was set up with my `big' [new member buddy] and she is now one of my best friends. From there, the rest is history. Being a part of NFTY is one of the best things I have ever done. There is no other community like NFTY in the world."
Though Faith is leaving the NFTY-MAR community, she is excited about her plans to attend West Virginia University in the fall on a full music scholarship.
Snyderman's advice to rising Micah teens: "Don't be scared to get more involved...try it...both MiTY and NFTY."
Faith will look upon her NFTY days and the Ben Topus award fondly. "NFTY-MAR is a special place in which I could let down all walls and barriers and just be myself... I was able to explore my Judaism in a different way that I wouldn't have been able to access if I didn't participate in NFTY. I am very passionate about my Judaism and it was wonderful to find a massive group of people who felt the same way."
[By Ronit Zemel and Shira Zemel; from May-June-July 2012 Vine]