Archive by Author

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 She was different from the other kids, withdrawn and separated from the group.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 Centers Engaging Families with Young Children Engaging Young Adults Reimagining Financial Support […]

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My Double Major in Communications and Jewish Life



by Liza Moskowitz Five years ago – amidst AP classes, piano lessons, soccer games, and responsibilities as my temple’s youth group president – I began the college search process. My “wish list” was simple: big school in a big city with a large Jewish population. I was undecided about my academic desires, but I knew […]

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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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If Not Now, When? NFTY’s Role in Freeing Soviet Jews



by Rachel Mersky Woda Growing up in a Reform Jewish household meant that you learned at an early age the value of tikkun olam, repairing the world. In our home, we were surrounded by opportunities for activism, and the one that occupied us for years was the plight of the Jews in  Russia. In the […]

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A New Sound for a New Generation: NFTY’s Music in the 2000s



by Caryn Roman There was a time when the term “Jewish Rock” might have been considered an oxymoron. In my own NFTY and camp days in the mid-to-late 90s, most of the music in services and song sessions reflected the Movement’s folk roots and didn’t sound much like what we listened to on the radio […]

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Shaping Israel’s Soul is Up to Us



by Rabbi Bennett Miller Earlier this month, Jews the world over poured into synagogues to “afflict our souls” on the holy day of Yom Kippur – to search within ourselves to atone, forgive, and ultimately emerge renewed. K’lal Yisrael (the community of Israel) is afflicting its own soul right now, too. Both real and existential […]

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Saying YES to Youth



by Rosanne Selfon Over 100 years ago, 156 American women representing 5,000 women in 51 sisterhoods gathered to found the National Federation of Temple Sisterhoods (NFTS), renamed Women of Reform Judaism (WRJ) in 1993. These women united to fortify their Jewish identities, perform mitzvot, and collectively support the Reform movement. One of their first endeavors […]

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“And you shall order schnitzel…”



By Bradley Egel People frequently talk about generational leadership. The Hebrew phrase, l’dor vador, literally means “from generation to generation,” and is most often applied to the handing down of leadership from one generation to the next. If a person is lucky enough to be present at a bar or bat mitzvah, they likely will […]

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