From the moment I met Phaygi, I knew I wanted to be just like her.
As an active NCSYer from the time I was in 7th grade, I was totally inspired and excited about my Judaism. The one thing missing though, was that perfect role model. When Phaygi took over as the head of Greater Washington NCSY, I quickly realized that that gap was about to be filled. Phaygi had such passion for life, sincerity for her Judaism and of course, knew how to make everything fun. She was the type of leader who empowered her NCSYers, showed each of us our strengths, and modeled for us what it means to be cool, frum and of course, insanely fun. She enhanced my high school experience tremendously by giving me leadership opportunities in the chapter and region, welcoming me into her home – which was filled with the greatest simcha and Jewish pride, and proving that by tapping into your personality and leadership potential, you could achieve anything you set my mind to. Despite none of my close friends doing NCSY with me, with Phaygi by my side, my days were filled with laughter, wackiness and most significantly, genuine growth and inspiration.
I remember receiving a package from Phaygi during my year in Israel. It was filled with a mix cd of hilarious music, tons of foam stickers, and an application to staff NCSY GIVE that summer. Phaygi had founded GIVE, formally known as VFI, a year earlier, as she saw a need to bring Judaism to life in a fun, inclusive and meaningful way for high school girls. Though I was only 19 at the time, Phaygi saw potential in me and brought me on as an advisor. This year I will celebrate my 6th summer serving as the Director of this incredible program, all thanks to Phaygi deciding to take a chance on a awkward middle schooler with poofy hair and braces years earlier.
Not a day on GIVE goes by without me asking myself, “What would Phaygi do?” and rarely does a summer pass without me reaching out for advice before we depart. She has been my role model for so many years, and will continue to be someone I admire and look up to for the rest of my life.