Imagine a congregational school in which the Sunday before a child’s Bar or Bat Mitzvah is their last day of classes, forever. A school where classes for students in grades 8-12 are not even offered, and where previous attempts at establishing a youth group have all failed, leaving no teen-specific programs. What would happen to the congregation’s teens once they become Jewish adults? And, perhaps more immediately, what would happen to their families’ involvement?
These were the existential questions facing me when I was hired as Education Director at...Read More
Last week, as the calendar filled with important occasions for Israel, I thought about the role the country plays in shaping Jewish identity for our movement’s young people. For decades, the URJ has been sending teens to Israel for life-changing experiences. This summer, Sci-Tech Israel, a new specialty trip, will join our family of teen and young adult Israel programs, which includes NFTY in Israel...Read More
Several weeks ago, I spent Purim in the Israeli city of Ra'anana, just a bit north of Tel Aviv. Our congregation there has been a victim of anti-Reform attacks and slander repeatedly, yet you would never have known it. It was so moving – and fun – to be with children, parents, and grandparents who actively choose to be involved with this Reform community – and who are committed to being Jewish in a way that is different than most others in Israel. I am fortunate to work closely with our Israeli Reform Movement leaders, but rarely do I have the chance – as I and many of our URJ board...Read More
Leadership development is critical for any congregation that expects to thrive now and in the future. An excellent and effective leadership development program includes elements of both skill-building and learning about the congregational community, providing emerging leaders with opportunities to explore and develop in these areas. Every leader, new or veteran, must learn about and reflect upon certain overarching principles to prepare for a congregational leadership role. The URJ has created a resource of self-guided modules that can serve as the basis for a congregational leadership...Read More
Inside Leadership, the blog at URJ.org, is a source for Reform Jewish leaders to get the latest news and though-provoking articles about Jewish communal life.