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September 3, 2015 | 19th Elul 5775
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The Journal of Youth Engagement is a collective space where those who are passionate about engaging youth can be inspired, can share best principles, and can learn from shared challenges. Now you can search for articles by the topics that you are interested in reading about.

Topics Archive


B'nai Mitzvah Field of Youth Engagement Holidays Inclusion
Israel Mentoring New Models & Innovation Niche Programming
Partnership & Collaboration Post B'nai Mitzvah

New Models and Innovation
  • Revolutionary: A Recipe for Delivering What Teens Want

    Teens in Evanston recently hosted a program for their non-Jewish peers that has generated buzz at school, home, and the synagogue. How did they reach a wide audience? And what are they going to do next?
  • Together in Israel: Reimagining the Congregational Israel Trip

    We check in with the Community Synagogue in Port Washington, NY, which, after a recent congregational trip to Israel, shares successful strategies for building intergenerational relationships and reimagining the “standard” congregational trip.
  • Why BBYO is Our Partner

    What is the role of the synagogue in the “multiplex” of compelling local offerings for teenagers? One rabbi shares his congregation’s strategy for ensuring that there’s an option for every teen.
  • Questioning the Essence of the B’nai Mitzvah

    How might we imagine a bat mitzvah that developed from student learning rather than dictated by a set of prayer requirements? One congregation shares their insights and strategies from experimenting with the B’nai Mitzvah Revolution.
  • What do Robotics Have to do With Israel and Judaism?

    How do we bring alive ancient Jewish texts and long-gone maps for young children? One congregation uses programming, code and 3D modeling to help students bring Jewish history to life.
  • Values in Action: A Service-Learning Program for Teens

    Imagine a community service program for Jewish teens that does not once teach about, or mention, tikkun olam. One congregation embraces its imagination to create an innovative and enduring understanding of Jewish values brought to life through action.
Partnership & Collaboration
  • Partners in Success

    It’s easy to “talk the talk” when it comes to creating successful partnerships. But Camp Newman wanted to truly build and sustain meaningful partnerships with local congregations. Here’s how they did it, and what you can learn from their experiment.
  • Why BBYO is Our Partner

    What is the role of the synagogue in the “multiplex” of compelling local offerings for teenagers? One rabbi shares his congregation’s strategy for ensuring that there’s an option for every teen.
  • Asking Big Questions: Applying Design Thinking to Working with Teens

    Ask the question. Brainstorm possibilities. Test an idea. Repeat. A new pilot in Boston utilizes principles from start-ups to guide guide a cohort of early adopters in designing meaningful Jewish experiences by teens, for teens.
  • Even Better Together

    When we were growing up in NFTY, the only thing better than being with our temple youth groups was when our advisors would plan an event with other youth group advisors. This gave us the opportunity to see our friends outside of our temple walls. Still today, teens in our congregations enjoy seeing their friends outside of regional events and outside of their own congregations. Teens today are looking for the “congregation-to-congregation” interaction.
Post B'nai Mitzvah
B'nai Mitzvah
  • 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 […]
  • Permission Granted: How the B’nai Mitzvah Revolution Impacted Our Congregation

    Rabbi Ben David recently shared with us what the B’nai Mitzvah Revolution looked like in his congregation. What’s changed at Adath Emanu-El since participating in the pilot cohort?
  • Questioning the Essence of the B’nai Mitzvah

    How might we imagine a bat mitzvah that developed from student learning rather than dictated by a set of prayer requirements? One congregation shares their insights and strategies from experimenting with the B’nai Mitzvah Revolution.
  • Five Lessons Learned: How the URJ’s Communities of Practice Strengthen Congregations

    by Amy Asin and Lisa Lieberman Barzilai Two years ago, the Union for Reform Judaism launched its Communities of Practice (CoP) initiative. We began with five separate cohorts, comprising lay and professional leaders from congregations throughout North America: Pursuing Excellence in Your Early Childhood Centers Engaging Families with Young Children Engaging Young Adults Reimagining Financial […]
  • An Intergenerational Shabbat Experience: Experimenting Toward Our Future

    As a new clergy team, we have spent the last year listening to laypeople and collaborating on values-based goal-setting as we plan for our future. One area that has emerged as a priority is Shabbat worship.
  • Just Say Yes: Inclusion is a No-Brainer

    Past President Michael Kaplan likes to tell the story about why he joined his current congregation and ultimately became its president. He talks about one High Holy Days when he entered the sanctuary with his wife, their profoundly challenged son Brandon, and Brandon’s guide dog. Settling into the services, sitting in the front row, they […]
Israel
  • Learning to Love? Exploring Our Role in Israel Engagement

    On Tu B'Av, the Jewish day of love, the URJ hosted a conversation on Israel engagement. I walked away with a new understanding of two potentially misdirected phrases: fostering a "love of Israel" and practicing "Israel engagement." On a day that promotes loving partnership, the question was on the table: how are we meaningful partners with Israel?
Inclusion
  • How Synagogues Can Prioritize Disability Inclusion This High Holiday Season

    by Jay Ruderman With the High Holidays just around the corner, Jews all over the world will be asking themselves how they can lead more meaningful and moral lives. Synagogue communities, too, will be asking themselves how they can become more holy and inclusive communities. In my years of involvement with disability inclusion, I’ve observed that change […]
  • 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 […]
  • Honoring Congregations that are Leading the Way on Disabilities Inclusion

    The Reform Movement is exceptionally proud of Rabbi Lynne Landsberg, senior advisor on disabilities issues at the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, who was recently presented with the Thornburgh Family Award in recognition of her years of service on behalf of people with disabilities. As the inaugural recipient of this award, Rabbi Landsberg was […]
  • This Month in The Tent: Being a More Welcoming Congregation

    Membership specialists and committee chairs will tell you the three tenets of congregational membership are recruitment, integration/engagement, and retention. In all three areas, one key to success is making people feel like your congregation is a place for them – in other words, being welcoming. What, specifically, can you and your fellow leaders do to […]
  • Striving for a Self-Determined Quality of Jewish Life for Jews with Disabilities

    by Shelly Christensen “There comes a moment when you realize that what you’re advocating for is more than just accommodations. You’re really advocating for someone’s quality of life. That’s the moment you realize you won’t give up.” (Dyslexia Training Institute) Sometimes Facebook produces surprises, like this quote I recently found while scrolling mindlessly through my […]
  • 10 Ways to Celebrate Jewish Disability Awareness Month in Your Synagogue

    With the start of February, so too begins Jewish Disability Awareness Month. Of course, there is nothing uniquely Jewish about disabilities, nor is there a greater need for inclusion in February than in any other month. So why observe Jewish Disability Awareness Month 2015 this February? We encourage Reform congregations to observe and participate in […]
The Field of Youth Engagement
  • 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 […]
  • 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 […]
  • Understanding Teen Brains, Creating Jewish Adults

    In our work as youth professionals, are we trying to create a youth community, or plant the seeds for vibrant, lifelong Jewish living? Understanding adolescent neurology can help unlock secrets for successful youth engagement.
  • Drinking From the Fountain of Youth at the URJ Youth Summit

    Today’s studies and statistics provide proof that engaged youngsters become actively practicing Jewish adults. While practicing remains a matter of degree, anyone who has worked with young people recognizes that relationships built during these formative years facilitate engagement long after the conclusion of temple youth group days. Creating those relationships requires incredibly dedicated adults who […]
  • Hanukkah’s Lessons Apply to our Work with Jewish Youth

    As we approach the eighth night of Hanukkah, I know I’m not alone when I say I’ve almost reached my fill of latkes! Still, I can never get my fill of family and community gatherings that are bursting with joy, spirituality, and a sense of awe for the enduring, illuminating light of the menorah. Of […]
  • The Most Useful Things I know About Outreach…I Learned as a Stockbroker

    Rabbi David Gerber shares his secrets from the financial world and how he’s used them to retain more than 90% of post b’nai mitzvah teens.
Mentoring
Holidays
  • A New Vision for Youth Shabbat

    Moving monthly Tuesday lounge nights to Friday evening Shabbat programs was a giant risk – and the rewards have been even greater. Here’s how one congregation took the leap.
  • It’s Never Too Late To Engage Our Teens

    During Rosh HaShanah this year, one of “my” teens was invited to give the High Holy Day appeal during services. The board and professional staff of Temple Beth-El in San Pedro, CA, where I work, recognizes the power that teens hold and understands that they are the future of the temple. The teen they asked was someone who 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.
  • The High Holidays are Coming: Don’t Arrive with Empty Pockets!

    As adults who work with the youth of our congregations, we often dream about that incredible event when we open the doors and kids start flooding in. We look up and it seems as if every child on the temple’s roster has shown up – all at the same time, in the same place. And although we may think such an event is just a far-off dream, in reality, it is coming to every single congregation across our Movement -- and beyond.
Niche Programming
  • Revolutionary: A Recipe for Delivering What Teens Want

    Teens in Evanston recently hosted a program for their non-Jewish peers that has generated buzz at school, home, and the synagogue. How did they reach a wide audience? And what are they going to do next?
  • Values in Action: A Service-Learning Program for Teens

    Imagine a community service program for Jewish teens that does not once teach about, or mention, tikkun olam. One congregation embraces its imagination to create an innovative and enduring understanding of Jewish values brought to life through action.
  • Youth Engagement in the Jewish Day School Recording Studio

    Given the cost, the resources, and the time it takes to produce a studio album, one Jewish day school makes the case for why it’s worth it to keep recording.
  • “Ruach Rock” Tefilah: Engaging Teens in Creating Meaningful Prayer Experiences

    How one educator turned what is sometimes a dreaded part of religious school into something that is meaningful, personal, and engaging.
  • How to Get Youth Into Your Synagogue

    The secret to ensuring a strong Jewish future is to provide opportunities for young people to engage deeply in an important part of our tradition.
  • Why We Made Our Junior Youth Group Event Less “Like NFTY”

    The congregation I work for has been hosting the JOSTY Shul In, a region-wide 7th and 8th grade junior youth group event, longer than I have been alive. After the event last year, I was disappointed to hear from some of my own students that they spent most of the shul in feeling uncomfortable, overwhelmed and bored, or worse - that they never wanted to be at a NFTY event again. And this was coming from the kids who already knew where the bathroom was when they got to the event.
 

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