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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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Coming Full Circle: The NFTY in Israel Tikkun Olam Experience



by Sharon Mann The phrase “what goes around, comes around” came to mind recently as I remembered back five years to the time I saw my daughter, Ayelet, off on a flight from Tel Aviv to Toronto, Canada. She was headed to URJ Camp George, a Reform Jewish summer camp where she would spend the […]

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Why We Closed Our Synagogue’s Preschool and Started Over from Scratch



by Rachel Stein As a former preschool teacher and director, I was enjoying my role as a parent and lay leader on the “other side” in our preschool at North Shore Congregation Israel in Glencoe, IL. As my two boys happily made their way through our small preschool, I chaired the parent committee and volunteered […]

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9 Jewish Education Lessons from the Field



by Michelle Shapiro Abraham Director of program development for the URJ’s Campaign for Youth Engagement, Michelle Shapiro Abraham, is a 2015 recipient of the prestigious Covenant Award for Excellence in Jewish Education. Here, she draws on her extensive experience to offer this sound advice to educators and congregational leaders. Every day I feel honored and […]

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URJ Staffer Receives Prestigious Covenant Foundation Award for Excellence in Jewish Education



We at the URJ are proud to announce that Michelle Shapiro Abraham, our director of program development for the Campaign for Youth Engagement, is the recipient of a 2015 Covenant Award for her work creating change and driving impact in Jewish education. Abraham joins 74 other Jewish educators honored by the Covenant Foundation since the […]

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Rabbi Rick Jacobs

Leadership Development: Experience the Continuum and Commitment at Biennial 2015



In my experience, synagogue leaders are among the most committed and devoted lifelong learners. With that in mind, I’m especially pleased that a large segment of the Biennial 2015 programming will offer congregational leaders the real-world skills and cutting-edge tools necessary to effect tangible and lasting change in their communities. In fact, the first two-and-a-half […]

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This Month in The Tent: Engaging Families with Young Children



“Sooner. Stronger. Deeper. Longer.” That’s the motto that guides Nancy Bossov through her work as an early childhood education and engagement professional. Now the director of early childhood education at Temple Israel in New Rochelle, N.Y., Nancy came up with this motto while serving as the director of early childhood education at the Board of […]

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Why My Congregation Hosts “A Taste of Judaism®” Classes – and Yours Should, Too



by Rabbi Marc Katz Over the past few years I have had the pleasure of hosting A Taste of Judaism® classes at Congregation Beth Elohim in Brooklyn, N.Y. The first time was at a local restaurant; the second was in the synagogue building. Over the course of teaching this class, I have learned a number […]

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Kindling the Flame of Education in Our Students



by Emily Messinger Philosophers – Jewish and otherwise – have long shared their individual insights into the philosophy of education. For educators, such insights can teach us about our students, how we relate to them, the challenges we offer them, and the ways we shape them into the best they can be.

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Don’t Forget: February is “Strengthening Congregations Webinar Month”!



As you may know, February is “Strengthening Congregations Webinar Month” here at the URJ. At the halfway point, more than 300 congregational leaders have joined live webinars to learn more about what makes a congregation strong and how the URJ is evolving to help you become or continue to be a strong congregation. The feedback […]

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Hanukkah’s Lessons Apply to our Work with Jewish Youth



As we approach the eighth night of Hanukkah, I know I’m not alone when I say I’ve almost reached my fill of latkes! Still, I can never get my fill of family and community gatherings that are bursting with joy, spirituality, and a sense of awe for the enduring, illuminating light of the menorah. Of […]

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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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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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Achieving Excellence by Pursuing Excellence in our Early Childhood Center



For the past 18 months, the URJ supported three “Communities of Practice,” cohorts of congregations that came together to learn, discuss, and experiment in a specific field. Members from participating congregations have been asked to reflect about their process. by Dr. Paula Sayag As an early childhood consultant with Washington, D.C.’s central Jewish education agency, […]

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