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The Challenges of Teaching about Israel



by Jack Wertheimer With the new school year nearly upon us, Jewish educational leaders are scrambling to prepare their teachers to discuss this summer’s Gaza War. The most pressing challenge is to design age-appropriate conversations: At which grade level might classroom discussions include potentially frightening topics, such as the wounding of non-combatants, kidnapping of young […]

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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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The Porch: It’s Southern, It’s Open, and It’s Jewish



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 Cantor Mary Rebecca Thomas When I was ordained a cantor in 2011, I never imagined […]

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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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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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NFTY in the 90s



by Rabbi Eve Rudin CAFTY, CFTY, CNYFTY, CRaFTY, JFTY, LIFTY, MAFTY, MoVFTY, MSTY, NEFTY, NELFTY, NOFTY, OVFTY, PAFTY, SCFTY, SEFTY, SOFTY, SWFTY, TOFTY, WEFTY, WESTY. Those are the names of the 21 NFTY Regions I grew up with in the 80s. And, yes, we used to have contests to see who could recite them the […]

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5 Ways NFTY Teens are Helping the Reform Movement “Make it Big”



I have a dirty little secret. I’m a junkie, I’m addicted to NPR and LinkedIn. Today I’m going to confess my LinkedIn addiction, not so much for the networking but for the information digests they provide based on career interests. This week, I came across “5 Signs You’re Going to Make it Big One Day.” Thinking, “Who doesn’t want to make […]

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Hello, Muddah, Hello, Faddah: Camp Season is Here!



Perhaps some of you remember the incredibly popular camp song by Allan Sherman that was a hit in 1963. It speaks to how connections are quickly made at camp as well as how important it is to be connected back home. We often speak of “bringing camp home” – but really, it is about connecting what […]

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This Should Be a Word: “Congfirmation”



Every week I look for the “That Should Be a Word” column in The One-Page Magazine in the Sunday New York Times. The column, if you can call it that, has an amazing knack for coining a good neologism – a new word or phrase. The humor, smarts, and creativity of the words inspired me to create my own […]

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Celebrating NFTY’s Diamond Jubilee



Taking the words of the prophet Joel as the refrain of her 1981 classic song “And The Youth Shall See Visions,” Debbie Friedman captured the role of young people in our Movement: And the old shall dream dreams, and the youth shall see visions, And our hopes shall rise up to the sky. For 75 […]

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A Formula for Engaging Jewish Teenagers



Working with teenagers is simply heartwarming. We experienced this yet again at our recent Havdala Under the Stars, Congregation Or Ami’s year-end gathering of our Triple T (Tracks for Temple Teens) youth program. Picture this: a large group of teens, 7th to 12th grades, sitting around a campfire, singing songs, playing games, and grouping and regrouping […]

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NFTY-NAR Kallah: Can Dads be NFTYites, Too?!



Earlier this winter, my synagogue played host to NFTY-NAR’s Winter Kallah. Because we’re of the “go big or go home” belief, our cantor arranged for Jewish musician Dan Nichols to be our artist-in-residence the same weekend. Ever a consummate mensch, Dan participated the entire weekend in activities with NFTY, the religious school, and programs for […]

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A Special Worship Service for Jews with Disabilities and Their Families



by Nancy Crown When I was called to meet with a member of my synagogue’s Congregation-Based Community Organizing Committee, I almost declined.  I was asked to think about what the temple could do that it was not already doing. My main reaction was to reflect on the many opportunities for learning, worship, and community that […]

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