Weve just celebrated
the 63rd anniversary of the founding of the State of Israel. On May 14, 1948,
when David Ben-Gurion read Israels Declaration of Independence on Rothschild
Boulevard, the entire country rejoiced, as they knew a new world was just
beginning. Ten years later, NFTY in Israel sent the first delegation of young
people to experience Jewish life in the Jewish State. This month the URJ is
highlighting its many Israel-related
resources, and in this newsletter we celebrate our amazing
youth-oriented Israel programs that have made such an enormous impact on the
lives of so many young people!
In this issue of
Serving Our Youth, well also take a closer look at one of our Teen Engagement
pilot programs and share information about teens and technology. Plus, you can
read about NFTYs new Youth Programs Managers positions and about what happens
at URJs Kutz Camp.
We also want to
remind readers that during the month of June the URJ will highlight its many
resources for helping congregations with LGBT and tolerance programming. NFTY
has some wonderful resources as part of their Living NFTY campaign GLBTQ Teen
Inclusion. There is also a great article called Welcoming LGBT Families
into our Schools and Youth Groups on the URJ blog, and you may want to
revisit our webinar on cyberbullying, Cyberbullying & Sexting: How Can We
Respond and What Can We Do to Prevent It?, found in the Youth section of the URJ webinar
Art can enrich our
lives and provide a visual component to help students understand our Torah,
Jewish history and stories. This project, part of our Campaign for Youth
Engagement, uses art as a vehicle through which to capture the human experience
for study. While the written word often does not capture the imaginations of all
of our students, a visual approach may open the door to our texts and stories
Six units are being
developed, including: Finding the Jewish in Art; Learning about Jewish History;
Studying Torah; Studying Prophets; Exploring Jewish Identity (Portraits); and
Finding the Strange and Bizarre in Jewish Art. Eighteen congregations are
already piloting some lessons. After all units have been completed this
curriculum will hopefully open the door to additional lessons and to enriched
learning for both younger students and adult audiences.
For more information
on this and our other pilot projects, visit urj.org/teen.
Teens and Technology
Educators We must
understand how to reach out to digital natives who interact with technology on
a daily basis. The Facebook for
Educators guide provides ideas regarding internet safety, using
Facebook for 24/7 education and more. While it caters to those in formal
education, the site shares some useful tools and resources for us. If your
congregation uses Facebook to engage teens in innovative ways, wed love to hear
about it. Send your ideas to Craig Rosen
and we can share them in future Serving Our Youth
Safety and Jewish Values on the Web It may be
counter-intuitive, but after a long day at work many of us log on to Facebook to
unwind. So do kids and teensover 20 million of them, according to Consumer
Reports. However, teens are doing more than just checking their news feeds and
responding to friend requests. Over 20% of them have been harassed, threatened
or otherwise bullied on the web, according to the Cyberbullying
Research Center, and online privacy issues and internet addiction have
also become legitimate concerns.
Feel free to use and
adapt the presentation for your synagogue or youth group, or incorporate these
key points into your everyday work.
exist online (but privacy settings are worth using anyway!) Consider zniyut, the Jewish
concept of personal modesty and restraint, when choosing to share personal
details on social media.
We believe in
standing up to cyberbullies (and encourage you not to be one).
In early April, the
East District Forum brought together individuals from around North America to
learn, network, sing, pray and be inspired. During these sessions, we learned
about todays teens who they are, how they communicate and ways in which our
congregations can engage, inspire and learn from them. There are many Forum
resources online, and you can
use them either as follow up on what you learned at the Forum or to find out
what you missed. If you are not yet part of our Network, please join
us. We welcome your
involvement and look forward to learning together.
Reform Youth Professionals Association
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
Rosen, URJ Youth Specialist.
Webinars are free,
live web presentations that allow you to learn from experts in areas of
importance to youth.
Check the webinar pages on
the URJ website throughout the summer for upcoming youth-related
URJ Webinar Archives
Webinars can be
accessed anytime through the URJ webinar archives. Some of the archived webinars
include: Creating Youth Policies for your Congregation; Strengthening Your Youth
Committee; Integrating Youth Professionals into your Community; What Does a
Youth Friendly Congregation Look Like; and Cyberbullying & Sexting How
Can We Respond and What Can We do to Prevent it?
Podcasts URJ Parenting podcasts cover a
broad range of topics and feature renowned experts. They are short and easily
downloadable so you can take them anywhere. Take a listen and tell us what you
thinkwe welcome your ideas for future learning.
What are NFTY Youth
Programs Managers? NFTYs Newest Positions! We are delighted
to introduce new NFTY professional positions. NFTY Youth Programs Managers are
full-time, region-based, youth professionals who will work directly with teens,
congregations and communities. Their primary goal will be to achieve Jewish teen
engagement and they will be responsible for:
relationships with congregations, communities and teens
and guidance to congregations in their pursuit to serve the needs of teens
learning opportunities for teens and youth professionals
unengaged teens find avenues for connection and participation in Jewish life in
NFTY and beyond
Continuing to mentor
the NFTY Regional Board and organizing regular NFTY regional events
Responding to the
interests of teens through experimenting with congregational, regional and/or
Serving as an
ambassador for all URJ Youth Programs
NFTY currently has
funding for six to eight of these positions throughout North America. We look
forward to this new venture, endorsed by the URJ Board of Trustees, to find
innovative, non-traditional ways to engage our teens.
The URJ Kutz Camp
hosts a college-campus style program where teens select a major, minors and
electives. The foundation of the program is steeped in leadership and Reform
Jewish values, and the program brings together 200 teens from across North
America and around the world. The ten majors include:
This summer, our
teens will be joined by scores of rabbis and cantors from the greater New York
area. As our movement rallies around the Campaign for Youth
Engagement, we welcome our regional clergy to inspire and engage the
youth we serve at Kutz Camp and in NFTY. We are excited to host three Leil Limud Beit
Midrash evenings during which clergy will have an
opportunity to teach and learn with participants in the Kutz program. Each
evening will focus on a theme from NFTYs Thirteen
Principles, the guiding values of NFTY and Kutz Camp.
We look forward to
spending our 46th summer at Kutz with teens from your congregation. For more
information about Kutz, please be in touch with Melissa Frey, firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit kutzcamp.org.
URJ - Israel
63 and 53: What Do
They Have In Common With The URJ? Israel just
celebrated its 63rd birthday and the Reform Movement is celebrating its 53rd
anniversary of sending young people (more than 35,000 over the years) on
journeys to Israel through NFTY in Israels summer teen programs, the NFTY-EIE
High School in Israel program and the URJ-KESHER Taglit Birthright Israel
programs. For many, the Israel experience codifies their years of Jewish
education in religious school, summer camp and at home. This summer, more than
1,500 people will travel to Israel under the URJs
A relationship with
Israel is central to Reform Jewish identity, and the Israel experience helps
young North American Jewish teens develop personal connections to the people,
places and history of Israel. Using a chronological model, URJ Israel programs
travel through Israel and allow participants to let Israel travel through them.
All URJ Israel programs give participants the opportunity to interact with
Israeli peers. The personal contact participants have with their Israeli
counterparts helps bridge the gap between the Diaspora and Israel.
By traveling to
Israel, our participants help fulfill part of Herzls dream, one in which Jews
have a place to call their own, to connect to and to dream about themselves.
URJs Israel programs have helped create these relationships for three
generations. For more, visit rjisrael.org.
During the CCAR
meeting in March 2011, Rabbis Phyllis Sommer and Daniel Gropper shared their
thoughts about being a camp rabbi and creating community. Their remarks (which you can read
online) are a fantastic tribute to the power of what camp can do for the
Jewish people. As we gear up for our summer season, think about ways to support
campers after they return to their home congregations. We wish all of our
campers an amazing summer!!!
Visit urjcamps.org for
more information about our camps and specialty programs, staff opportunities,
news updates, research and more!
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