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Summertime Forever: 11 Ways Your Congregation Can Support Its Campers



As the academic year comes to a close, we’ve rounded up resources for your congregation to stay connected with your campers throughout the summer. The tips and resources here will assist your congregation in leveraging the learning, joy and relationships developed at camp during the summer. We hope you find a few of these recommendations […]

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How Tots Helped Our Small Congregation Grow



By Harriet Skelly In 2013, Congregation Shir Ami in Castro Valley, CA, was at its lowest membership in 15 years. Several years earlier, we had implemented a new, low-cost dues structure in the hopes that it would help increase the membership. At about the same time, Rabbi Rick Jacobs, president of the Union for Reform […]

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Four Questions to Ask Ourselves When It Comes to Youth Engagement



After spending time with more than 3,000 teens – as well as many youth professionals and other stakeholders – at the 2015 NFTY Convention and Youth Summit, I am more convinced than ever that everybody is a winner when it comes to youth engagement. I don’t mean that we all get little plastic trophies to […]

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Reform Youth Leaders Debrief AIPAC Conference



By Debbie Rabinovich, Andrew Keene, and Jeremy Cronig American Jews are extremely passionate about Israel. Regardless of sect, political affiliation, or region of the country, 16,000 people came to Washington, D.C., for the AIPAC Policy Conference for the sole purpose of advocating for Israel. The enormity of this event was a physical representation of the […]

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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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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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