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October 10, 2015 | 27th Tishrei 5776

Serving Our Youth: January 2011

Serving Our Youth
Website | Subscribe | Donate January 31, 2011 | 26th Sh'vat 5771

This newsletter will provide information and resources for Jewish professionals and lay leaders working with youth in our affiliated URJ congregations.

From the Union Youth Specialists

> Teen Engagement Guide
> Teen Engagement Network
> Youth Professionals
> Webinars
> Youth Department
> Upcoming Events
> Israel Programs
> Camps

At the December URJ Board meeting in Henderson, Nevada, Rabbi Eric Yoffie challenged all of us to join URJ’s Teen Engagement Initiative. We are already seeing a flurry of activity in this arena and are here to help you with this new initiative. You can find more information below and on our Teen Engagement web page.

We are pleased to welcome Dana Sheanin to the Youth Specialist team. Dana formerly served URJ as a Regional Director of Youth Programs and we are delighted to have her back with us. Her expertise is in long range planning and organizational capacity building.

For more information or assistance contact one of our Youth Specialists:

Margie BogdanowMargie Bogdanow

Craig RosenCraig Rosen

Rabbi Laura Novak WinerRabbi Laura Novak Winer

Dana Sheanin Dana Sheanin

Planning Guide for Teen Engagement

This winter, we offer a new tool to help your congregation begin a thoughtful cycle of assessment and evaluation: the new Planning Guide for Teen Engagement.

This free guide is designed to be useful to all congregations, regardless of size, location or organizational structure. It includes four discussion modules which encourage congregational stakeholders to identify areas of strength and areas in need of attention. The modules can be completed as a series, or each on their own, according to the needs of your congregation. The guide also includes information regarding how to identify which module to start with, and how to set incremental goals once you have identified challenge areas.

Teen Engagement Network

The Teen Engagement Networking Group (formerly known as the Congregational Youth Volunteer Leaders) is a gathering place for all those who care about youth/teens in your communities. As part of the Networking Group you will be subscribed to our listserv, on which you can share with others your successes, challenges, concerns and questions about your teens. To join the group, go to the Networking Groups page on the URJ website.

The Teen Engagement Networking Group will convene in person for the first time at the North American Forum, April 8-10, 2011 (to be held in the East District). At the Forum, we will discuss the following questions: Who are our teens? How do they communicate? How can we partner with others (locally, nationally and internationally) to provide them with the opportunities they need to grow and thrive, How can we strengthen our individual communities to support them? It will be an exciting and enriching few days for all who participate. Visit for more information.

Youth Professionals Affiliate

Plans are underway to form a new professional affiliate for youth workers. A group of youth professionals from throughout the country are crafting a charter and preparing to establish themselves as an official affiliate of the Reform Movement. They have established two task forces and are recruiting more members. If you or someone you know may be interested in participating, please contact Craig Rosen, URJ Youth Specialist.


Webinars are free, live web presentations that allow you to learn from experts in a variety of areas of importance to youth.

Creating Youth Policies for your Congregation, March 23, 2011 2 PM EST
Presenter, Craig Rosen, URJ Youth Specialist
Does your congregation have written guidelines and policies for your youth program? Together, we will explore areas to consider when crafting a youth policy for your congregation. We will touch upon topics such as youth group membership, driving for and during events, chaperone ages and ratios, technology, kosher vs. non-kosher food, Shabbat activities, smoking, illegal substance use and discipline procedures.

URJ Webinar Archives
Webinars can also be accessed afterwards through the URJ webinar archives. Some of the archived webinars include: Youth Worker 101 – What You Need to Know for a Successful Year; Strengthening Your Youth Committee; Integrating Youth Professionals into your Community; What Does a “Youth Friendly” Congregation Look Like; and Sacred Choices Training for Facilitators of the Middle School and High School Curriculum.

URJ – Youth Department

A new Youth and College Programs brochure brings the words—play, live, study, volunteer—to life, making it easy for our young people to find just the right URJ programs for them. We encourage congregations to help members select an exciting youth or college program:

  1. Promote programs by linking to them from your congregation’s website. For a great example of how to do this, visit Temple Israel of New Rochelle, NY at
  2. Share information in bulletins or e-mails. Visit URJ’s Bulletin Bytes page,, for ready-to-use text and graphics.
  3. Ask for brochures and flyers for distribution. Request as many copies from the request page at
  4. Invite us to speak. Call 212.650.4070 to schedule a visit.
  5. Nominate a participant for one of our programs. Complete our form at and we will contact potential participants directly.

Upcoming Events

NFTY Convention 2011

Youth Workers Conference 2011

NFTY Regional Event Calendar 2010-2011
Find a list of upcoming NFTY Regional Events across North America. Not sure which region your congregation is a part of? View NFTY’s Regional Map. NFTY’s regional programs bring youth groups from across the region together for Jewish enrichment and hands-on experiential programming

Join NFTY on Facebook
Become a fan of NFTY’s page on Facebook so you can receive “up to the minute” NFTY news!

URJ - Israel Programs

The URJ Israel Programs provide meaningful and engaging experiences for our young people. For general information about our programs, visit We have also launched a new website dedicated to our Israel programs for the 18-30 cohort:

There are six different programs that serve our community:

  • NFTY in Israel provides short term summer programs for teens 15-18 who have completed 10th grade but not yet started college.
  • NFTY-EIE High School in Israel is a four-month, semester-long residential high school in Israel program where 10-12 grade students study Hebrew and Jewish history; travel in Israel and Poland; and take all their classes and exams from schools in their hometowns.
  • Taglit – Birthright Israel KESHER is a 10-day free trip to Israel for 18-26 year olds who have never been to Israel before on a peer educational program. (NOTE: Registration for Summer 2011 trips will open on February 15 (or February 14 for returning applicants). URJ and Reform Movement rabbis, clergy and youth workers can recommend applicants for priority VIP status. If you have someone in mind from your community, please email his/her name and contact info to
  • Netzer Year is a gap-year leadership training program in Israel for high school graduates. It includes eight months of volunteering, studying, living on a kibbutz and touring Israel.
  • Tikkun Olam in Tel Aviv-Jaffa is a service-learning program for college graduates in which participants work on fostering coexistence and engage in hands-on community service.
  • Kibbutz Lotan runs two long-term programs for university students and graduates – the Green Apprenticeship, a hands-on Jewish environmental sustainability program, and Peace, Justice & the Environment, an international development program that teaches about environmental solutions for international problems.

As always, the experience of traveling with friends in a safe and healthy environment is the hallmark of the NFTY in Israel programs. For more information about any of these programs, visit or email

URJ – Camps

6 Points Sports Academy
After a very successful inaugural year, our specialty sports camp is gearing up for its second summer and we’re looking for more kids who enjoy sports.
Win Scholarship Money for 6 Points Sports Academy!
Deadline: February 1 - Share your personal sports highlight reel and win scholarship money to attend URJ 6 Points Sports Academy.

Special Needs Summer Programs
URJ offers a number of programs for youth with special needs. In addition to the highly successful special needs programs at URJ Kutz Camp and URJ Camp Newman, we have two additional special needs programs, Israel in a Special Way and Camp Chazak at URJ Eisner Camp.

Incentive Grants for Campers
If a child has never been to Jewish overnight summer camp, s/he may be eligible for a $700, $1,000 or $1,500 grant. It is not need-based and is an easy application process.

Visit for more information on our camps and specialty programs, staff opportunities, news updates, research and more!

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