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Green Eggs and Hamantaschen: Creative Purim Gift Bags Bring a Community Together



by Betsy Zalaznick Purim at Or Chadash, in Flemington, N.J., includes many of the usual traditions: putting on a Purim spiel (play), using boxes of pasta as gragers, baking hamantaschen with our students, reading the Megillah, and hosting a spectacular carnival that features Esther’s Salon, Mordecai’s March Madness, a photo booth, and plenty of prizes […]

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At URJ Camp Harlam, Creating a Community that Supports Everyone



by Cori Miller I recently heard about a beautiful woman who was known for, well, being beautiful. She was accustomed to being stared at and was repeatedly told, by strangers and loved ones alike, just how beautiful she was. While flattering, this constant focus on her appearance left her feeling judged solely on her looks, […]

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How PJ Library® Helped Our Congregation Engage Families with Young Children



by Marilyn E. Gootman Congregation Children of Israel is a 150-family congregation in Athens, GA. As a small congregation, we were looking for creative ways to welcome and engage families with young children, one of our target membership demographics. The answer came in the form of PJ Library®, which enables us to offer book subscriptions […]

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Echoing Through the Generations: The Story of Sylvester Marx



On Sunday, June 6, 1915, Sylvester Marx was confirmed at The Temple–Tifereth Israel in Cleveland, OH, marking the culmination of the young man’s Jewish education. A special reception followed, and the entire congregation joined in celebrating Sylvester and his fellow confirmands on that beautiful spring day.

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Three Memorable Moments



By Greg Kellner I can’t remember in great detail my time as a NFTYite or back 16 years ago when I was a camper at Eisner, but the moments I do remember are the ones that shaped who I am today and how I approach my life’s work: raising the next generation of Jewish youth.

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Sing Unto God a Newly Created Song



By Blaire Weinberg Our tradition tells us in Psalm 149, “Sing unto God a new song.” For 75 years, NFTY teenagers have shaped, written, and led songs that have allowed Reform Jewish teens to connect with Judaism in an entirely new way. NFTY musicians sit at the epicenter of Jewish music, experimenting with new takes […]

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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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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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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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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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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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NFTY Convention Registration Opens October 6th!



Registration for NFTY Convention 2015 and the Youth Summit for congregational professionals and stakeholders will open Monday, October 6th! To make sure your congregation is ready, here are some helpful reminders:

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The Power, Growth, and Continued Success of Mitzvah Corps



“Dad, this is amazing,” my daughter exclaimed on a phone call home from Mitzvah Corps Nicaragua this summer. “There are so many kids on my program who have never heard of NFTY before!” You may think this comment would’ve been discouraging to me: What are we doing wrong that these kids have never heard of […]

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