Archive by Author

The Odd Couple: Reform Judaism and Zionism

by Rabbi Daniel M. Bronstein, Ph.D. Making sweeping historical generalizations is easy. Lots of people make them, even the best of historians. Broad statements can be a “necessary evil” when one is faced with limited time or space to make an historical point. But generalities can easily mutate into over-simplifications that ultimately obscure – if […]

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The Future of Reform Judaism: How Can We Lead in Challenging Times?

This fall, the URJ’s Leadership Institute is offering a series of three sessions about key concepts that we hope will inspire sacred action within congregations. The series began with Allison Fine’s session about “matterness” and values alignment. The second session is hosted by Marty Linsky, who will discuss leading in challenging times at the URJ Biennial […]

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How We Planned the Temple Event That Won Us a Prestigious Programming Award

by Alexis Rothschild This year, the sisterhood of Temple Sholom in Vancouver, BC, Canada, is celebrating our 50th anniversary. We are proud to be receiving a silver Or Ami “Light of My People” Programming Award, which will be recognized at the WRJ Assembly 2015, held Nov. 4-8 in Orlando, FL (concurrently with the URJ Biennial […]

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How to Organize a Hanukkah Bazaar

by Kay Schachter Hanukkah, which begin at sundown on December 6th, seems far off – but it isn’t too early for your congregation, sisterhood, or brotherhood to start planning a Hanukkah fundraiser. A Hanukkah bazaar is a great fundraiser; it also gets your congregants thinking about their Hanukkah shopping and can give an early boost […]

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Emerging Reform Summer Camp Affirms the Jewish Future in France

By Rabbi Tom Cohen The terrorist attacks in Paris last January suggested to some French Jews that they try to find a safer haven elsewhere. For many others, however, these traumas have only reinforced the desire to continue building a proud Liberal Jewish community in France that is faithful to the prophetic dream of being […]

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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

This fall, the URJ’s Leadership Institute is offering a series of three sessions about key concepts that we hope will inspire sacred action within congregations. In this post, Allison Fine discusses values alignment and “matterness.” To learn more, listen to the recording of her session “Making People Matter – More than Just Something We Say.” […]

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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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