is the season of rebirth as we move from Purim to Passover we take
time to examine past programs and look ahead to the future. Among the
new initiatives, we share information about the Teen Philanthropy Pilot
program and discuss Teens and Technology. We also are pleased to
announce the formation of the Reform Youth Professionals Association
(RYPA). In addition, you can find information about our upcoming
webinars and on the new Living NFTY Initiative, GLBTQ Teen Inclusion. We
also take a look ahead to the summer as our Camp and Israel Departments
are busy preparing for another great season ahead. As always, our youth
specialists are here to help you. Please call on us if you need help as
you plan for the future!
In addition to the information below, we also want to remind readers
that this month the URJ is highlighting its many resources for helping
congregations with their Outreach and Membership efforts, particularly
as congregations prepare to welcome the stranger during Passover.
Visit urj.org to access these great resources, and visit urj.org/teen to learn more about youth Outreach efforts in the form of the Teen Engagement Initiative.
Wed like to make a special note here to honor Rabbi Michael Mellen as
he leaves his position as Director of NFTY to pursue new opportunities.
During his tenure, Michael has guided NFTY to new heights and was
instrumental in crafting NFTYs strategic plan for the future. We thank
him for his leadership and friendship, and wish him much success. Subie
Banaszynski has been named interim Director of NFTY, and we are very
excited to be working in partnership with her.
We are particularly excited by the launch of our new Teen Philanthropy pilot.
During this two-year pilot, the URJ is partnering with the Jewish Teen
Funders Network (JTFN), to tap their expertise in Jewish teen
philanthropy. Beginning this month, our cohort of congregations will
collaborate to create a model for congregation-based teen philanthropy.
Participating congregations will have access to best practices training
through JTFN; consultation with URJ specialists on the unique needs of
their teen population; and the opportunity to participate in the shaping
of a curriculum for 9th and 10th graders exploring the Jewish case for
giving, values clarification, communal need, service, fundraising and
effective grant making.
Teens will begin using the materials this fall. There are still a couple
of spaces remaining so if your congregation is interested in joining
us, please contact Dana Sheanin, Youth Specialist at firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit our website at urj.org/teen.
Teens and Technology
A quick Google search of teens and twitter produces 114,000,000
results, many with the same theme: teens dont tweet. Although that may
be the current trend for the majority of teens, its not necessarily the
case among NFTYites, as Brett Lubarsky, a youth worker from
Massachusetts, observed during NFTY Convention: Visit NFTYs blog for his reflections on the recent convention.
It is not too late to be a part of the first gathering of the Teen Engagement Network. We will be meeting as part of the East District North American Forum
in the Boston area April 8-10. Come join us as we explore issues of
teen development and communication while providing you with tools to
enhance your youth program, and well learn together about issues facing
teens in your community. In addition, we will rejoice and sing together
as we honor the life and music of Debbie Friedman.
This promises to be a wonderful Shabbat experience and we hope to see you there.
If you cant be there, you can still join the Networking Group
and connect virtually with others across North America who care about
youth. By joining the Teen Engagement Networking Group you become
subscribed to our listserv, on which you can share with and learn from
others. Just send a note to URJTEENENGAGEMENT@shamash.org and join the conversation!
Reform Youth Professionals Association (RYPA)
the Youth Workers Conference in Dallas last month, the Reform Youth
Professionals Association (RYPA) was introduced and greeted with a
rousing applause. A group of youth professionals from throughout North
America have crafted a charter and are establishing themselves as an
official affiliate of the Reform Movement. They have three task forces
(Professional Development, Administrative and Communications), and are
recruiting more members. If you or someone you know may be interested in
participating, please visit the RYPA website and complete the volunteer form, or contact Craig Rosen, URJ Youth Specialist.
Webinars are free, live web presentations that allow you to learn from experts in areas of importance to youth. REGISTER TODAY!
March 23, 2011 2 PM EDT
Creating Youth Policies for your Congregation
Presenters: Craig Rosen, URJ Youth Specialist, and Subie Banaszynski, Interim NFTY Director
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.
April 28, 2011 2 PM EDT Social Emotional Learning: What is it and why does it matter in my congregation?
Presenters: Rabbi Laura Novak Winer, Director of Teen Engagement, and Dana Sheanin, URJ Youth Specialist
A focus on social emotional learning, also called character education,
has become important in the field of secular schooling. How can teaching
your students to manage their emotions, develop positive relationships
with peers and make responsible, ethical choices enhance the classroom
experience? What is Jewish about this idea? We will explore the
principles behind social emotional learning, introduce resources to
enhance it in your classroom and discuss how using this can increase
your ability to retain students beyond the middle school years.
URJ Webinar Archives
Webinars can also be accessed anytime 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
NFTY Convention/Youth Workers Conference
The Fairmount Hotel was literally bouncing up and down from the nearly
1,000 people enthusiastically dancing and singing to the music at the
NFTY Convention and Youth Workers Conference (YWC) last month in Dallas,
TX. Participants from across North America came together for five days
of praying, learning, networking, seeing old friends and making new
ones. Participants were inspired by the people they met and the learning
that took place throughout the week. The magic that was created during
the five days together will have a lasting impact on those who were
there and ultimately on our Movement for years to come! Visit nfty.rjblog.org for the NFTY Convention Rewind, including videos, photos and other testimonials.
GLBTQ Teen Inclusion NFTY continues our Living NFTY Initiatives with the recent launch of GLBTQ Teen Inclusion.
This collection includes a variety of materials to help broaden our
understanding and heighten our level of inclusion of Gay, Lesbian,
Bisexual, Transgendered and Questioning teens. It is our hope to raise
awareness so that all of our teens better understand sexual orientation
from a 360 degree perspective, and to ensure that NFTY continues its
commitment to GLBTQ teen inclusion.
URJs KUTZ Camp
Will Kutz: NFTYs Campus for Reform Jewish Teens
become home to your congregational teens this summer? The value of
having a teen from your TYG attend Kutz is exponential. Your teen will
return home a more confident leader, a more connected Reform Jew and a
more resilient human being.
If you know a highly-engaged teen (entering grades 10-12 in the fall of
2011) from your congregation who might be right for Kutz, please nominate them.
URJ - Israel Programs
Join JewGlee, a singing tour of Europe and
Israel, in which teens perform with an audition-only choir of 30 elite
NFTY singers. Participants will see the birthplace of Reform Judaism in
Europe, perform with international artists in Israel and tour Israel. Auditions are now underway for this new program.
URJ Israel Programs provide meaningful and engaging experiences for our
young people. For general information about our programs, visit rjisrael.org. We have also launched a new website dedicated to our Israel programs for the 18-30 cohort: ReformMasa.org.
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 during which 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. Alongside the spring and fall
semester options, there is also a shorter summer version of this amazing
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 nftyisrael.org or email email@example.com.
is blooming which means summer is right around the corner!
Congregations across the country celebrate and acknowledge the families
who are about to embark on a summer of fun and immersive Jewish life as
they prepare to attend a URJ Camp or Israel program. See how Shaaray Tefila in NYC does it.
The Foundation for Jewish Camp just published Camp Works study,
which gives quantitative proof to what we know to be true: Jewish
summer camps have a profound effect on Jewish identity. We see this
every summer with the 10,000 children who attend URJ Camps. We have seen
thousands of URJ campers grow up to become involved in Jewish life in a
variety of ways and we have seen countless URJ camp romances turn into
marriages and future generations of URJ campers. Read about and join in the lively discussion regarding the value of camp.
In addition to the fabulous regional camps and Israel summer program
options, excellent specialty programs for those who want to perfect a
special skill set are available: