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Serving Our Youth: October 2011

Union for Reform Judaism Serving Our Youth Newsletter
Website | Subscribe | Donate October 25, 2011 | 27 Tishrei 5772

This newsletter provides information and resources for Jewish professionals and lay leaders working with youth in URJ congregations.

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From the Youth Specialists

5772 will be a truly historic year for the Reform Movement. Not only will we welcome a new URJ President, we will also launch the Campaign for Youth Engagement. There has been a tremendous amount of energy and excitement surrounding the launch of the campaign, and—together with our congregational partners—we can and will increase the number of youth engaged in Reform Jewish Life over the next ten years.

History will also be made this year as we welcome the Reform Youth Professionals' Association (RYPA) into the URJ family. Read below to learn more.

This month, the URJ is highlighting its many youth-related resources, and so we're pleased to share with you that each of the five NFTY North American Board members has contributed a blog about how their camp experiences better prepared them to be NFTY Leaders. Visit the NFTY Blog, and read about how Forrest Yesnes, Liza Moskowitz, Avra Bossov, Austin Zoot, and Taylor Lyles were influenced by their experiences at Kutz, Greene, Coleman, OSRUI and Jacobs camps.

As we begin the new year and look forward to the exciting programs and changes on the horizon, we invite you to read, watch and hear what is happening in our programs by following the network of URJ youth blogs. May the year 5772 be a good one for us all!

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

Margie Bogdanow

Margie Bogdanow
Phone: 212.452.6777

Craig Rosen

Craig Rosen
Phone: 212.452.6738

Vicky Farhi

Rabbi Laura Novak Winer
Phone: 212.452.6733

Stephanie Fink

Dana Sheanin
Phone:  212.452.6732

Campaign for Youth Engagement

Education Summit: Youth Engagement
The Campaign kicks off at the URJ North American Biennial Convention, taking place in Washington, DC, Dec. 14-18. The Education Summit is for congregational leaders devoted to education and concerned about the significant drop off rate of post-b’nei mitzvah youth and their families. The Summit sessions will be led by such great teachers as Dr. Jonathan Woocher, Dr. Wendy Mogel, Rabbi Larry Kusher, Rabbi David Ellenson, incoming URJ President Rabbi Rick Jacobs and more! Because this is an education issue as well as a membership issue, and because it affects youth and their parents, congregations or organizations that send a team of volunteers (presidents, education committee chairs and membership chairs, for example) and professionals (educators, youth workers, rabbis and cantors) will get the most out of the Summit. Please note that Summit participants will also take part in some sessions of the Biennial, but in order to take advantage of the special sessions, you must be registered for the Summit

Middle Schoolers and Resources to Support Them
This year, consider asking your middle school students: What would compel you to stay involved? How can we make our congregation a place that is more comfortable for you? What would need to change here for you to feel welcome? The answers may not come easily, but the time has come for us to ask the questions. Read the blog post by Dana Sheanin to learn more about some new URJ resources to help you with your middle school youth programming.

Engaging Parents of Teens in Your Community
Along with programs for teens, many communities are now recognizing the importance of engaging parents of teens. A recent archived webinar “Finding New Ways to Engage Parents of Teens” (in the Youth section) is full of information about this cohort and suggestions for more effectively including them in congregational programming. We are also looking for congregations to join with us in developing and piloting new programs. We will work with you to create the right program for your community. For more information contact Margie Bogdanow or Wendy Grinberg.

For more information about our Campaign for Youth Engagement pilot projects, visit

Reform Youth Professionals Association (RYPA)

Join RYPA at the URJ Biennial as the Reform Movement congratulates them on the founding of their association. RYPA currently hosts a fan page on Facebook and encourages you to ”like” them so you can stay up to date on all that is happening surrounding the founding of the organization. Membership details and the new RYPA website will be launched this December.

Read more about RYPA on a recent RJBlog post by one of RYPA’s founders, Matt Jerome.

For more information or to get involved with RYPA, please contact Craig Rosen.

Learning Opportunities

URJ Webinar Archives
Missed a webinar? No problem! 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?

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 think—we welcome your ideas for future learning.

URJ – Youth Department

NFTY Leaders Assembly at the URJ Biennial
The NFTY Leaders Assembly at Biennial is a unique opportunity for teens to gather with nearly 5,000 members of the Reform Movement – adults and teens together. In addition to joining the main Biennial programming for Shabbat services, song sessions and dinner, the teens will have leadership-based workshops throughout the convention. These workshops will include programming around NFTY’s Study and Action theme and how the Leaders Assembly participants can participate in and bring home these themes; and general leadership workshops geared specifically toward teen congregational and Youth Group leaders. Workshops will include: Personal Expression and Reform Judaism; Finding Meaningful Social Action Opportunities; Using Social Media to Advance Your Issues; and Community Building and Successful Partnerships.

Priority registration for the NFTY Assembly ends on November 1. After that, registration is available at a higher cost and on a space-available basis only. Please check our website: for more information.

Two hundred teen leaders from across North America and around the world will gather in Warwick, NY, June 24-July 20, 2012, for the 47th summer of the NFTY Leadership Experience. The program at Kutz is predicated on fostering teen leadership through one of ten majors, and is steeped in a Reform Jewish experience based in ethics and values.

Did you know that during summer 2011 Kutz helped prepare more than 40 musical teens in our Songleading Major, 14 teens in our Mitzvah Corps Major were equipped with the skills to work with peer special needs populations to return home and serve as madrichim in their religious schools or that close to 20 teens learned about Reform Judaism through a different lens as participants in our Digital Media Major? For more information about Kutz, please contact us at or visit us online at

RJ Insiders Guide to College Life
Reform Judaism magazine’s 6th Annual RJ Insider’s Guide to College Life is now available online to help young people and their parents make college decisions through a Jewish lens. Read the popular, sold-out guide covering de-stressing admissions, tips for getting into college, handling hovering parents, finding funding, the top 60 schools Jews choose, the top 20 schools by percentage of Jews and more!

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