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Mitzvah Corps: The Power of Community, The Power of Self



By Alex Rogers, Avra Bossov, and Matt Liebman As a central tenet of Reform Judaism, tikkun olam – repairing the world – can seem overwhelming. How does one take on such a task as an individual? For over 50 years, Mitzvah Corps has empowered Jewish teenagers across the continent to infuse this concept into their […]

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A Force to be Reckoned With



by Cantor Ellen Dreskin I remember the first time I met Debbie Friedman. In the fall of 1974, I was a college freshman. Rabbi Sam Karff from Congregation Beth Israel in Houston (my home) let me know that Debbie would be spending a Shabbat at Beth Israel, presenting her new Hanukkah service, “Not by Might, […]

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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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NFTY Regions – It Takes a Village and We are a Village



by Julie Marsh Many people wonder about the “magic” of NFTY, the power to bring teenagers together, create a holy community, and create lasting relationships. As a regional advisor, I am often asked how, when, and who creates that NFTY “magic.” To many, these questions are complicated, and to be honest, when it comes to […]

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Jewish Women Innovators: The Next Generation



by Sam Kazer This week, the WRJ Blog features a series of articles about the newest URJ Camp: URJ 6 Points Sci-Tech Academy, and WRJ’s efforts to increase the presence of girls at the camp and, by extension, support women in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM). Our girls’ dorm, Rosie, is named after Rosalind Franklin, a […]

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A Jewish Junta



By Rabbi Jonah Pesner Who recruited you into NFTY? Who invited you to your first event? Who tapped you on the shoulder, and suggested you should become involved in a Jewish youth group? I remember them. They called themselves “The Junta.” Sometimes they were referred to as a “gang of four.” They were the four […]

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Natan Sharansky Speaks to URJ Camp Staffers About the Conflict in Israel



by Hanoch Greenberg The URJ’s shlichim (Israeli emissaries) were privileged last month to participate in a webinar with Natan Sharansky, the chairman of the Jewish Agency for Israel, in which he discussed the ongoing Operation Protective Edge and its implications for the shlichim, who were working in the Diaspora as conflict escalated in Israel. For […]

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Encouraging Leadership with Both Hands



By Celia Tedde and Jeremy Cronig “Da lifnei mi atah omeid–know before whom you stand.” This quote from Talmud B’rachot 28b has been the central focus of our experience in the Leadership Academy at the URJ Kutz Camp. This summer, we spent four weeks in Warwick, NY learning and developing our leadership skills. The URJ […]

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Sing Unto God, Sing a New Song! A Reflection from the Kutz Songleading Major



By Eva Turner This summer at URJ’s Kutz Camp was the second year I chose the Songleading Major. Many people asked, “why do the same major again?” to which I always responded, “I need new music.” In truth, I decided to participate in songleading for a second time because I believe you can never learn […]

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NFTY Alumni Profile: Jason Cohen



If you watched the Academy Awards this year, the film title Facing Fear may sound familiar. If you were in JFTY in the late 1980’s, the film’s producer/director’s name – Jason Cohen – may sound familiar. Either way we caught up with Jason (JFTY ’90) to chat about his work as a filmmaker, his exciting […]

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The Walkman Generation – NFTY in the ‘80s



By Rabbi Roxanne J. Schneider Shapiro More than the Jewish people have kept the Sabbath; the Sabbath has kept the Jewish people. – Ahad Ha’am When I reflect on NFTY in the ‘80s, I would revise Ha’am’s quote to: More than Reform Jewish teenagers have kept NFTY; NFTY has kept Reform Jewish teenagers. I cannot […]

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The Century Ends: NFTY Music of the 90s



by Cantor Rosalie Boxt Sometimes I feel like I was born in the wrong decade. I have often wondered what it would have been like to be a songleader with my mentors, my friends, and my “heroes” in the 70s. Yet, as I reflect back on the time when I was a young songleader, during […]

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6 Ways URJ Camps are Leading the Way in Jewish Camping



The Forward recently shared “Jewish Camp Trend-Spotting: 10 Ways a Summer Ritual Is Changing,” detailing how the world of Jewish camping is evolving – and the Reform Jewish Movement’s 15 summer camps are leading the way! Here are a few ways URJ Camps are on the cutting edge: Specialized Programs: Specialty camps allow us to […]

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Mother and Daughter Reflect on Going to Kutz



by Julie Hollander Eichelbaum and Emma Eichelbaum As the URJ Kutz Camp enters its 50th year, campers emerge as members of a vast network of Kutz alumni. For a select few of those campers, the alumni network includes their parents, also products of NFTY’s campus for Reform Jewish teens. Emma Eichelbaum (Kutz ’12-‘14) and her […]

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