This is the first installment of a short series named “Dad’s Closet.” These garments are pulled straight from my father’s dusty cedar closet, a modest time capsule in his Buffalo, NY home. While far from a sartorial aesthete, my dad was fortunate enough to grow up in an era when clothes were made domestically and made well — even the cheap garb.
These two sweatshirts date from the mid-1960’s. Buffalo’s Temple Beth Zion youth group, of which my father was a member, was then a part of a national organization of reform Jewish youth groups. This organization was known as the National Federation of Temple Youth, or NFTY. The national organization was further subdivided into regions, and Buffalo belonged to the Northeastern Lakes Federation of Temple Youth, or NELFTY. Amusingly, the former name was the Lake Erie Federation of Temple Youth, using the acronym LEFTY. The organization’s name was understandably changed in the 50’s during the McCarthy era. As my dad notes, “it seemed like a particularly bad idea for a group of Jews to be running around calling themselevs LEFTY.”