27, 2012, New York, NY -- Since the Union for Reform Judaism's Campaign for Youth Engagement was
launched at the URJ Biennial in December, URJ professionals, lay leaders and
Movement-wide partners have been visiting congregations and communities to
gather information about what congregations need to better engage youth.
One of the results is an initiative called "B'nai Mitzvah
Revolution," and a revamping of a conference geared toward practitioners
who work with Reform Jewish Youth
The B'nai Mitzvah Revolution,
a project of the URJ and HUC-JIR, will empower synagogues to improve the
quality of Jewish education in their communities, reduce the staggering rates
of post-b'nai mitzvah
dropout, and return depth and meaning to Jewish learning. In the next year, the
URJ will work together with a small number of congregations to explore this
issue. This pilot cohort will learn together and share resources and ideas as
they experiment with revolutionary approaches to b'nai mitzvah observance and preparation,
as well as more effective models for learning Hebrew, kavannah
(intentionality) in prayer, and other curricular areas. Dr. Isa Aron, Professor
of Jewish Education at HUC-JIR and Rabbi Bradley Solmsen, Director of Youth
Engagement at URJ, will serve as co-directors.
B'nai Mitzvah Revolution will be about systemic change," said Rabbi
Bradley Solmsen, who became URJ's Director of Youth Engagement in January and
is co-directing the project with Aron. "We want to make the rite more
meaningful and more community-oriented," he said, without diminishing the
child's personal sense of accomplishment.
URJ Youth Engagement Conference (formerly
Youth Workers Conference), which will be held February 15-19, 2013 in Los
Angeles, CA, will focus on transforming congregational youth programs. The
conference has been re-envisioned as a gathering of the brightest and most
dedicated youth professionals, clergy and lay leaders. Together they will learn
from experts in the field, engage in meaningful discussions and share best
practices. There will also be opportunities for attendees to connect with teens who are participating in the concurrent NFTY Convention.
revamping of the Youth Engagement Conference is not merely cosmetic," said
Solmsen. "The Conference will be the premiere opportunity for meaningful
professional development for people who care about working with youth. It will
also help us deeply explore what positive engagement looks like and how it
NFTY Convention, also on
February 15-19, 2013 in Los Angeles, CA, will bring together hundreds of creative,
engaged Reform Jewish teens looking to connect, learn and have fun.
Participants will spend five days exploring their Jewish identities and
learning how to take action in areas that are meaningful to them. They will
return home energized and ready to share their experiences with their congregations,
families, friends and other Jewish teens.