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September 1, 2015 | 17th Elul 5775

An Open Door to Youth Engagement

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The Journal of Youth Engagement is a forum of ideas and dialogue for those committed to engaging youth in vibrant Jewish life and living. Join the discussion and become a contributor>
An Open Door: Youth Engagement in Our Jewish Community 
by Lindsay Ganci

At The Community Synagogue of Port Washington, NY, all Jewish teens in the area are welcome to join the youth programs — whether or not their families are dues-paying members of the synagogue. The synagogue’s clergy, lay leaders, professionals and congregants all understand and validate the significance of Jewish youth experiences in the lives of our young people, and accept the reality that not all the families in our community are willing or able to commit to membership in our synagogue. Read more>

What the B'nai Mitzvah Revolution Is (and Is Not) 
by Rabbi Benjamin David

Adath Emanu-El of Mt. Laurel, NJ is participating in the B'nai Mitzvah Revolution, but they are not making drastic changes. They are not overhauling their program or doing away with time-honored traditions. What they are doing is examining the process, the before, during and after that surround B'nai Mitzvah. They are asking the important questions and working together as a community to find the answers. Read more >


When the Door Isn't Always Open: Inclusion and Jewish Teens
by Pamela Schuller

Sometimes it feels like “inclusion” is a buzz word. Talking about inclusion is “in” right now. It’s on the radar of the URJ, our congregations, our school systems, and our communities. Growing up with a neurological disorder, Tourette Syndrome, Pam Schuller was on the other end of the inclusion talk. 
Now, as a youth professional, she tries to teach the idea that inclusion is not about what we can’t do because we are accommodating teens with special needs, but what we get to do because our community is growing with our members. Read more >


Teen "Busy-ness": A Challenge or an Opportunity?
by Jeffrey Kagan

“Busier than ever:” This is the refrain that youth advisors hear over and over again about the schedules of their teens. Whether expressed as a positive (teens are “highly engaged”) or a negative (they are “over-programmed”), the implications for their involvement in youth group are clear — less time available overall usually means less involvement in youth group programs. In light of the many demands placed on teens at Temple Ner Tamid in Bloomfield, NJ, Jeffrey and Amy Kagan are finding ways to address this fundamental dynamic so they can best serve the teens in their congregation. Read more >

It's Never Too Late To Engage Our Teens
by Ellie Laycook

Recognizing that teens are the future of their temple, the board and professional staff of Temple Beth-El in San Pedro, CA invited a teen to give this year's High Holiday appeal. The teen they asked had felt disenfranchised from the synagogue and was pulled back in by his peers, youth programming and the idea of building his own youth group community. He felt blessed to share his journey and relate how NFTY and youth group have reconnected him to a community he thought he had left after Bar Mitzvah. Read more >

Youth Engagement Around the Web
Rabbi Rick Jacobs reacts to the recent Pew study that revealed a surprising 30% of Jews who claim "none of the above" as their religious affiliation.

For the first time ever, Thanksgiving and Hanukkah will overlap this November. Celebrate the Thanksgivukkah “mashup” with these ideas for a meaningful eight days of giving.
Rabbi Paul Kipnes reflects on how his congregation has integrated teens into the most sacred and central places of congregational life. 

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