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Moving Our Future Forward at Biennial 2015



The Reform Movement’s Biennial gathering is a prime opportunity to advance your community’s youth engagement work. Join colleagues, lay partners, and – for the first time, more than a hundred teen leaders as part of a High School Cohort – for immersive learning, networking, and celebration.

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From the Director’s Desk: Teen Voices in Our Work



The three pieces we have assembled for you in this issue of the Journal have several elements in common that are worth highlighting. As youth professionals, Becky, PJ and Laura all point to the need to ensure that teen voices are being heard.

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Comedy, Disability, and the Inclusive Synagogue: An ELI Talk



Pam Schuller is my hero. She’s not just my hero because she’s one of the outstanding Reform Jewish youth professionals who works day and night to connect with so many of teens and congregations in NFTY’s Garden Empire Region (which includes central and northern New Jersey and New York’s Rockland and Orange counties). She’s not […]

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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: Make sure the program content is varied. Teens need spirituality, but are also drawn to […]

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Youth Engagement: The Power of Collaboration



It has been so encouraging to see so many turn their focus and attention towards youth engagement. In recent days alone, young women from NFTY had a voice and presence in our mission celebrating Women of the Wall’s 25th anniversary, our camping and Israel programs volunteers and staff leadership held their annual meeting, and youth […]

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Redoubling Our Efforts on Jewish Youth Engagement



Two years ago, the Campaign for Youth Engagement was launched at the URJ Biennial in Washington, DC. Our movement rallied around the cause and is engaging more youth and teens in our communities. In 58 days we’ll be together again, this time in San Diego at Biennial 2013. We are excited to share plans to […]

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The Year In Youth Engagement



As we begin the year 5774, and reflect on the year that has passed and our aspirations for the year ahead, it is a time to check-in on our accomplishments and hopes for all that we want to achieve in youth engagement. Our six-month strategic planning process, funded with a matching grant from the Jim […]

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The Many Blessings of Jewish Summer Camp



Last Friday afternoon, I arrived at URJ Camp Newman in Santa Rosa, CA, just as camp was ushering in Shabbat. The staff member who greeted me at the gate showed me where to park and explained that I would be able to find services on my own – that I would hear them. Sure enough, […]

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You Say You Want a (B’nai Mitzvah) Revolution?



We are hearing regularly from congregations who know that bar and bat mitzvah have tremendous potential and are thinking about challenging the assumptions of traditional b’nai mitzvah in search of more meaningful and transformative experiences and to help reduce the staggering rates of post-b’nai mitzvah dropout. The B’nai Mitzvah Revolution was launched a year ago […]

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At URJ Summer Youth Programs, the Heat is On!



As I write this, more than 12,000 youth, teens, college students, and young adults are participating in our summer programs. Our diverse summer line-up includes the URJ Camps, NFTY in Israel trips, NFTY-EIE High School in Israel, RAC Machon Kaplan college internship program and KESHER Taglit-Birthright Israel trips. Staffing these programs are more than 1,000 […]

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What We’ve Learned from the Consultancy on Youth Engagement



Last fall, the URJ received a matching grant from The Jim Joseph Foundation to support the development of a strategic plan for youth engagement. Over the past four months we have been intensively working with two consulting firms to develop this plan: BTW informing change and The Center for Leadership Initiatives. The first phase of […]

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Communities Taking Hold of Youth Engagement



To celebrate Shavuot last week I joined with friends at a nearby community-wide tikkun leil Shavuot (an all night Torah study) hosted by our congregation, Congregation Beth Elohim in Brooklyn. As in so many communities, it was a lively scene as people gathered together, listened, learned, questioned and challenged each other. This inclusive form of […]

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What’s New with the Campaign for Youth Engagement?



I just returned from two weeks in Israel focusing on the intersection of Israel and youth engagement… and eating lots of delicious hummus! A dynamic connection to Israel is a critical strategy in all our youth engagement work. One of the key Israel intersections occurs at the URJ camps. URJ camps host more than 200 […]

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Don’t Ban the Bar Mitzvah. Revolutionize It!



In a controversial blog post on Kveller.com that’s making waves within the Jewish community, rabbinical student Patrick Aleph proposed yesterday that the Jewish community dramatically rethink b’nai mitzvah, which he says are “not really worth anyone’s time or money.” Aleph, who studies at the Rabbinical Seminary International in New York City (and is not affiliated with any […]

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