Archive by Author

The Value of Our Teens’ Time

For a unique teen perspective on the pressure to achieve, check out “School” a documentary made by Sophia Anderson, Beth Am teen and the inspiration for this article.

This is the paradox of youth professionals everywhere:

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Conversations with Engagement Innovators: Rabbi PJ Schwartz

Interview Questions (Interviews with Innovators)

How have you engaged your community around youth?

We have always had a successful and vibrant youth program, and it continues to grow. Because youth engagement is a passion of mine, I am very involved in programming, both formally and informally. In some sense, I have become a vessel between generations. Congregants know how much I love youth. They know that they can most likely find me in the Religious School lobby during weekday mornings, greeting our preschoolers, and in the afternoons my office might be filled with kids hanging out before Religious School. At the same time, they know that they can come to me for their own [adult] needs, as well.

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The Ripple Effects of Peer-to-Peer Mentorship

When I recently asked a group of colleagues to help me think about examples from pop culture in which teens mentor other teens, we found it surprisingly difficult to come up with genuine examples.

In the movie Clueless (1995), Cher (Alicia Silverstone) becomes the self-appointed fashion mentor to a new girl at school in order to help propel said new girl up the social ladder. In the Broadway show Wicked, a similar dynamic is at play when Glinda and Elphaba overcome their dislike of each other and Glinda attempts to give Elphaba a makeover. We came up with a few similar examples, but none quite fit the bill.

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6 “Can’t Miss” Youth Engagement Opportunities at the 2015 URJ Biennial

These days, it’s tough to go five minutes without buzzing. Technology is everywhere, and with it comes a constant connection to everyone’s favorite: social networks. Here at the URJ, we are proud to offer programs and camps to form a different kind of social network.

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Learning Their “Truths” – Talking to Kids About Camp

Several weeks ago, I had the honor to learn with teen leaders from two of our NFTY regions. I asked them to share with me their truths – the things they have learned about themselves and the world, that are central to the way they live.

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Learning Opportunity: Closing the Gap between Good Intentions and Bad Results

In the coming months, the URJ’s Leadership Institute will offer a Scholar Series on Leadership, in which three experts each will lead a virtual discussion about a topic relevant to congregational leadership. The first scholar is Allison Fine, who will discuss value alignment and “matterness.” Here, she offers a sneak peek into her session. By […]

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What Makes Jewish Science Camp So Special?

by Stephen Weitzman At the beginning of many episodes of his epic Twilight Zone television series, Rod Serling would often intone, “You are traveling through another dimension, a dimension not only of sight and sound but of mind. A journey into a wondrous land whose boundaries are that of imagination.” That description could be printed […]

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How Synagogues Can Prioritize Disability Inclusion This High Holiday Season

by Jay Ruderman With the High Holidays just around the corner, Jews all over the world will be asking themselves how they can lead more meaningful and moral lives. Synagogue communities, too, will be asking themselves how they can become more holy and inclusive communities. In my years of involvement with disability inclusion, I’ve observed that change […]

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What My Vacation Taught Me About Audacious Hospitality

by Frieda Hershman Huberman Vacation enables us to reflect, rejuvenate, recharge our batteries, and look at life from a fresh perspective – and sometimes, it’s the actual vacation experience itself that becomes a learning opportunity. While on a short getaway this summer, I gleaned new insights on audacious hospitality, one of the Reform Movement’s top […]

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How We’re Creating Vibrant Jewish Life in Israel and Around the World

by Rabbi Nir Barkin The Book of Deuteronomy, my favorite, begins with this passage as the Israelites prepare to enter the Promised Land: These are the words that Moses addressed to all Israel on the other side of the Jordan. – Through the wilderness, in the Arabah (desert)…in accordance with the instructions that God had […]

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Celebrating Rosh Chodesh in Your Congregation

by Annice Benamy Also in the day of your gladness, and in your appointed seasons, and in your new moons, you shall blow with the trumpets over your burnt offerings; and they will be a memorial for you before your God.  I am the Lord your God.” —Numbers 6:6 What is Rosh Chodesh? Rosh Chodesh […]

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The Ripple Effects of Meaningful Peer-to-Peer Mentorship

By Rabbi Laura Novak Winer When I recently asked a group of colleagues to help me think about examples from pop culture in which teens mentor other teens, we found it surprisingly difficult to come up with genuine examples. In the movie Clueless (1995), Cher (Alicia Silverstone) becomes the self-appointed fashion mentor to a new […]

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Get Your Teens To Teach Torah

At 17-years-old, Joseph is one of the only identified teenagers in the Torah. Joseph is a complicated teen with a fierce rivalry with his brothers and a love of clothing. Joseph’s dreams, which tradition believes came from God, lack any mention of the divine and have no connection to sacred text. That Joseph’s story was taking place in the 37th chapter of the 1st book of that sacred text might have been a reason.

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8 Great Reasons to Attend the Biennial

by Jan Marion, Raymond Capelouto, and Luise Mann Burger With an eye on the quickly approaching September 10th early bird registration deadline, we’re delighted to offer eight excellent reasons for you and your fellow congregational leaders to attend the URJ Biennial 2015 from November 4-8 at the award-winning Marriott World Center in Orlando, FL: The best […]

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