Engage Jewish Youth During the High Holiday Season

With the High Holidays approaching, congregations are considering new ways to effectively connect to more youth at this vital time in the Jewish calendar. If your synagogue is among those looking at new approaches this year, consider the following variables:

  1. Make sure the program content is varied. Teens need spirituality, but are also drawn to the arts, service, current events, and connections to their own passions, hobbies, and commitments.
  2. Consider the program location. It’s important that teens feel comfortable in the synagogue, but by utilizing different locations, we will open programming to a broader group of teens.
  3. Timing, schedule, and duration make a huge impact. It’s essential that what we are offering takes place at different times of the day, and for a variety of durations, in order to connect with the greatest number of young people.
  4. Tap older teens to help plan and recruit their younger peers. We all respond best to personal invitations, and younger teens are always excited when personally invited by an older peer.

In the past, the URJ used email to share different ideas and strategies, and you can still sign up to receive Jewish Holiday Reminder emails from ReformJudaism.org. This year, we are excited to be able to introduce you to an effective collaboration platform, The Tent Yammer Network. Yammer is a great way to share ideas, questions, and thoughts in real-time, and drum up conversation amongst our peers. Want to join the conversation? Visit the Youth Engagement group in The Tent Yammer Network to contribute your examples and see what others are discussing. If you don’t yet have an account or want to learn more about how it works, we’ve put together some helpful information on our website.

The approaching holidays offer us a tremendous opportunity to reflect on all the things we are doing well and the opportunities we have to more deeply connect to even more young people in our communities. Our Reform Jewish youth and their families also look forward to the time when they can acknowledge all they have achieved and their growth while looking forward to the year that lies ahead.

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Rabbi Bradley Solmsen

About Rabbi Bradley Solmsen

Bradley Solmsen serves as the North American Director of Youth Engagement for the Union for Reform Judaism (URJ). For eleven years Bradley served as Director of Brandeis University’s Office of High School Programs which includes BIMA, Genesis, and Impact: Boston. Rabbi Solmsen was ordained at The Hebrew Union College – Jewish Institute of Religion in New York and received a masters degree in Jewish education from the Jewish Theological Seminary. He has extensive experience as a Jewish educator in Israel and North America working with teenagers and college students and training Jewish educators. Bradley is married to Aliza Kline and is the proud abba of Ela, Gila and Nomi.

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