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Wallingford teen wins national Jewish art competition

Andrew Baxter of Wallingford has been selected a runner-up in this year’s NFTY Competitions, which honors teens involved in the Reform Jewish youth movement who express their Jewish identity through creative arts and social-action projects.

Baxter is one of four runners-up in the Visual Arts category. His artwork, along with the other runners-up and two finalists, will be published in the 5776 Art Calendar, sponsored by Women of Reform Judaism.

A sophomore at Hopkins School in New Haven, Baxter is active in the NFTY Northeast Region and serves as religious and cultural vice president of the youth group at Gishrei Shalom Jewish Congregation in Southington. He was inspired to get involved in NFTY by his mother, Marci, who was active in the Northeast Region NFTY while a congregant of Temple Tefereth Israel in Malden, Mass., serving on the regional executive board as a high school senior.

“She had a passion for NFTY and is still in touch with the friends that she made there. She wanted her children to experience NFTY as well,” says Baxter, whose love for music and art began as a child. “My siblings and I instantly fell in love with the community, the people, and the omnipresent sense of inclusion. I recently completed my second year as a participant in the NFTY Northeast Region, and plan to continue my NFTY experience as a camper at the URJ Kutz Camp this summer.”

Baxter learned of NFTY Competitions from his rabbi, Shelley Kovar Becker.

“Since I enjoy art so much, and I saw that there was an art contest, I decided to submit a piece,” he says. “I had no idea that my work would be selected for an award but I was very proud when I received the news. By entering this contest and winning an award for an art piece that I created for fun, I opened many doors to further my NFTY and my Jewish experiences. Recently, I received a letter in the mail that I was nominated by the NFTY Northeast regional advisor as a potential camper at the URJ Kutz Camp, simply because of an award I had won on a piece of art. I will be attending the camp this summer on the major track of Temple Youth Group (TYG) leadership.”

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