Archive by Author

Because of NFTY, I Learned…



By Amy Bebchick I was never a member of the NFTY North American Board or Regional Board. I attended some NEFTY (now NFTY-NE) regional events, but I can’t remember which ones or where. I didn’t meet my husband at a NFTY event, and my closest friends are not from my NFTY years. But my local […]

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What’s Jewish About These Laws?



By Rabbi Josh Weinberg May it be Thy will, my God and the God of my fathers, to protect me against the impudent and against impudence, from bad men and bad companions, from severe sentences and severe plaintiffs, whether a son of the covenant or not. – The personal prayer of Rabbi Y’hudah HaNasi, BT […]

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The Mi Shebeirach Quilt



by Shelley Schweitzer May the Source of strength, Who blessed the ones before us, Help us find the courage to make our lives a blessing, And let us say: Amen. The year was 1999 and the NFTY-Northeast Lakes (NFTY-NEL) community learned that there were big changes ahead. Long-time regional advisors Terry Pollack and Neil Poch […]

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Camp Chazak: Fulfilling God’s Plan for Kids with Disabilities



by Emily Gergen and Stephen Weitzman According to Jewish tradition, the number three has special significance implying completeness and stability. Examples of this importance include the expression “and God blessed,” which occurs three times in Genesis; the word “holy,” which is recited three times during kedusha, the priestly benediction which consists of three sections; the […]

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Dancing My Way Into NFTY



by Sarah Ruben I am a third-generation NFTYite and URJ camper, so it was a given that once I was old enough, I, too, would participate in NFTY, the Reform Jewish youth movement. When the time came for my first regional event, however, despite my familiarity with NFTY and my excitement at finally being a […]

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Building a Robust, Reform Shabbat Community



by Harry Frischer Imagine a room filled to capacity each Shabbat with worshippers who derive deep satisfaction from regular communal worship. Imagine the ruach (spirit) of many voices lifted together each week in energetic, musical, participatory prayer. Imagine a community whose members enjoy rich, rewarding spiritual lives, nourished by regular prayer, ritual, and learning. Imagine […]

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Finding My Voice and Connecting with God



By Josh Nelson I could see her sitting against the wall. She was different from the other kids, withdrawn and separated from the group. My grandmother would have called her “a bit of an odd duck.” She was just… other. The kids leapt into the air, singing at the top of their lungs. “Ivdu et […]

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Five Lessons Learned: How the URJ’s Communities of Practice Strengthen Congregations



by Amy Asin and Lisa Lieberman Barzilai Two years ago, the Union for Reform Judaism launched its Communities of Practice (CoP) initiative. We began with five separate cohorts, comprising lay and professional leaders from congregations throughout North America: Pursuing Excellence in Your Early Childhood Centers Engaging Families with Young Children Engaging Young Adults Reimagining Financial […]

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How We Brought Camp Into our Religious School



Ellen Fox describes how her congregation embraced the best that camp has to offer to ignite change in her religious school.

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How We Tapped Into The Potential Energy of Jewish Leadership



One group of teens re-envisions how they meet their goals, and shares what we can learn from them.

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The Most Useful Things I know About Outreach…I Learned as a Stockbroker



Rabbi David Gerber shares his secrets from the financial world and how he’s used them to retain more than 90% of post b’nai mitzvah teens.

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The Real Hannah Senesh



By Josh Weinberg It was 70 years ago this week, according to the Hebrew calendar, that a young Jewish girl named Hannah Senesh was executed by firing squad by the Hungarian-Nazi police force. She had been captured after parachuting into Europe with a group of Jewish paratroopers of the Haganah who were sent to rescue […]

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Chicago’s Innovative Approach to Engaging Young Families



by Nancy Manewith It all began with an amazing meeting – a discussion, really – with Susan Zukrow, the URJ’s project director for the Chicago Early Engagement Leadership Initiative (CEELI). This new program, funded by the Crown Family Philanthropies and facilitated by the URJ, brings together 12 cross-denominational Jewish early childhood centers from the Chicago […]

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Chaveirai n’vareich – Let’s Praise Birkon Mikdash M’at: NFTY’s Bencher



By Jeremy Gimbel That is how a leader begins the Birkat HaMazon, the blessing recited after a meal. When I think about the process that led to the publication of Birkon Mikdash M’at: NFTY’s Bencher, this proclamation resonates like the beautiful walls of sound created by NFTYites and campers as they sing this blessing.

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