3 Ways to Connect Your Graduating Seniors to the Reform Movement

Inside Leadership

3 Ways to Connect Your Graduating Seniors to the Reform Movement

Male and female graduating NFTY seniors with their arms around one another while wearing college tee shirts

One of our great sages, Mark Twain, famously and correctly observed that everyone talks about the weather but no one does anything about it. The same, unfortunately, could be said of the lack of Jewish engagement on college campuses. Of course, there are many success stories, and the Reform Movement is proud to have played in role in them – but more often than not, our congregations say goodbye to our students when they graduate high school.

In an effort to reverse the trend, we at the URJ are excited to share a number of new and upcoming initiatives to make it easier to maintain strong Jewish connections for our college students.

During the coming weeks, thousands of Reform Jewish high school students will graduate high school, celebrating their accomplishments with family and friends and readying themselves for the next big step in their lives. Whether they’re preparing for college, starting new jobs, or taking a gap year, this spring marks a time of enormous excitement and uncertainty – and  any of these Jewish young adults will be making big decisions about their Judaism and their connection to the Jewish community.

For most grads, this will mark the first time they’ve had to decide where to go for High Holidays and how to create their own Shabbat experiences, not to mention addressing broader Jewish questions like how to engage in social justice work or how to explore and understand conversations about Israel. With all of these exciting and nerve-wracking opportunities awaiting them, it’s no wonder so many recent grads struggle to meaningfully connect with Jewish life on campus and in their communities.

As they make the complicated transition out of high school, many of these Jewish young adults begin to miss their youth group, summer camp, or home congregation – and the Union for Reform Judaism is working to ensure that all of our students find ways to continue their connection to Judaism and the Jewish community. As Jewish communal leaders, we can help guide these young people toward fun and meaningful Jewish experiences, no matter where their paths take them:

  • Share our Seniors 2017 Form with the graduating seniors in your congregation so they can add themselves to our Campus Map. In less than a minute – really! – they’ll be connected to thousands of other Reform students on campus, URJ programs and opportunities, and exclusive events happening right on their campuses. Finding a Reform Jewish community on campus has never been this easy!
  • Make sure your graduating seniors know about NFTYalumni.org, our growing portal to help high school alums plug into ongoing opportunities for engagement.
  • Looking for ways your congregation or community can celebrate its graduating seniors? Check out this list of ideas and opportunities. NFTY alums can sign up to receive our email newsletter, join the alumni taskforce, find local events, and more.
  • The URJ is also working on several new projects to launch in the next year: the College Summit at the URJ Biennial in Boston, a regular newsletter that provides updates on Reform Jewish life on campus, NFTY Alumni campus and community events, a cohort of students and staff supporting Reform Judaism on campus – and lots more. Stay tuned!

We hope you’ll join us in ensuring that your graduating seniors – this year, and in years to come – continue their love and connection to our community. Because Judaism doesn’t end when you graduate high school; it merely transforms into something more whole and complete.

Rabbi Rick Jacobs is the president of the Union for Reform Judaism. Evan Traylor is the URJ's inaugural presidential fellow for millennial engagement.

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