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Three Great Congregational Programs that Tackle the Challenge of Demographic Diversity



Today’s congregations face a wide range of changing demographics. Many communities are experiencing a geographic shift, as older adults age in place, families move into new suburban areas, and younger Jews flock to revitalized downtown areas. As a result, members of local Jewish communities are often in completely disparate locations, providing synagogues with both an […]

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Comedy, Disability, and the Inclusive Synagogue: An ELI Talk



Pam Schuller is my hero. She’s not just my hero because she’s one of the outstanding Reform Jewish youth professionals who works day and night to connect with so many of teens and congregations in NFTY’s Garden Empire Region (which includes central and northern New Jersey and New York’s Rockland and Orange counties). She’s not […]

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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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10 Ways to Welcome Teens at the High Holidays



Looking for innovative opportunities to engage your teens around the High Holidays? These 10 ideas come directly from the source – youth professionals across North America.

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Tishah B’Av, the Grateful Dead, and the Power of Our Youth Work – Let’s continue it at the Biennial



“Wave that flag, wave it wide and high. Summertime done come and gone, my, oh, my…” –The Grateful Dead, “U.S. Blues” A few weeks ago, the Grateful Dead held their last concert celebrating 50 years. I, like so many of you, was a fan of the Dead. I think I was attracted to them because […]

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Rabbi Rick Jacobs

4 Surprising Ways Camp Connects Us All



Sports, games, art and science projects. Swimming, hiking, climbing. Laughing, learning, sharing. It’s these activities, and more, that transform summer camp into one of the strongest links in the Reform Movement’s chain of connections. In fact, summertime for the URJ is like one huge game of connect-the-dots. Connecting current campers with alumni. Connecting clergy with […]

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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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Looking Back at Kutz@50… and Then Looking Forward



By Rabbi Michael A. White I recently returned from a magical week as a faculty member at the URJ Kutz Camp, the Reform Movement’s teen leadership institute at the foothills of the Catskills in Warwick, N.Y. My week at Kutz brought back memories of my first visit some 37 years ago. Nearly four decades ago, […]

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How Our Teens Built an Active Presence at Our Temple



by Kara Liu Youth engagement is about more than just teens. Rather, effective youth engagement is a whole organism made up of parents, leaders, and the young people themselves. That’s the main takeaway from my experience at a recent day of professional development at Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion in Los Angeles, organized by […]

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Kutz@50: A Gathering of the Generations



by Rabbi Lisa Silverstein Tzur It was truly a “standing at Sinai” moment. Despite geographical challenges, limited financial resources, and a national holiday, more than 650 Reform Jews came from around the world last weekend to reconnect with URJ Kutz Camp, the sacred place so many of us have called home over the years. We […]

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Coming Out in a Jewish Community: How Our Congregation Embraces LGBTQ Teenagers



On the bimah during his confirmation, twelfth grader Sean Cooper recounted his coming out experience: When I came out as a homosexual, I posted a picture to Facebook with my father, with the caption “….”. While some may have previously inferred my sexual orientation, that post was my first official public coming out. The next […]

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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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18+ Ways to Make LGBT Members Feel Welcome in Your Congregation



June is here, and in honor of LGBT Pride Month, we’re sharing suggestions for welcoming LGBTQ members into your congregation and community. Do you have ideas to add to this list? Leave them in the comments below! Celebrate Gay Pride Month (June) with a special Shabbat service. Invite LGBTQ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Questioning/Queer) members […]

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