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Serving Our Youth: January 2012

Union for Reform Judaism - Serving Our Youth Newsletter
Website | Subscribe | Donate January 10, 2012 | 15 Tevet 5772

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


Campaign for Youth Engagement »
Youth Professional Resources »
Youth Committee Resources »
Youth Programs »
Parent/Family Resources»

From the Youth Specialists

Happy New Year,

Many of us are still flying high from the recent URJ Biennial and the exciting kick-off of the Campaign for Youth Engagement. If we are to succeed, we need to all come together and make this Our Campaign. Find out how you can become involved and what you can do to engage the youth of your congregation!

You will notice a new format for the Serving Our Youth newsletter, which we hope you will share with those who are involved in youth engagement in your congregation. We’ve reorganized the newsletter into sections for easy navigation of our resources, programs and news.

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
News and Updates

Here’s how to learn about the Campaign for Youth Engagement (CYE): 

  • Watch videos of the launch of the CYE at the Biennial Forum and visit the CYE webpage.
  • Reach out to any of our Youth Specialists or any members of the CYE Vision Team. Each and every one of them is committed to this Movement-wide effort and is eager to speak with YOU about it. If you’re unsure who to contact, send an email with your questions about the CYE to  A member of the URJ Youth and Education Specialists staff will be in touch with you.

Incubator Grants available for new innovative youth programming
For the second year, the URJ is offering Incubator Grants to our member congregations to allow them to DREAM BIG! URJ Incubator Grants provide seed funding for innovative new projects designed to actively engage more people in Reform synagogue life. Grants of up to $5,000 will be awarded to selected synagogues for fiscal year July 1, 2012 - June 30, 2013. This year, a major emphasis will be placed on programs which strive to engage post-b’nei mitzvah teens and their families. Grant applications are due on February 28, 2012. 

CYE Pilot Projects and Planning Guide
One of the most concrete ways to get involved with the Campaign is by committing to participate in one of our pilot projects, each designed to offer an innovative way of reaching and engaging youth and families.  The pilot initiatives include a national teen philanthropy project; a teen-centered community organizing effort; the new CHAI 8 and Enduring Jewish Art curricula; a virtual Jewish high school; individualized education plans for motivated teens; support for parents; and a close look at early engagement. 

As you are thinking about how to strengthen your youth program, also be sure to explore the URJ’s Planning Guide for Teen Engagement, a resource for uncovering the unique strengths and challenges of your congregation and setting concrete goals for improvement.

Reform Youth Professionals Association LogoYouth Professional Resources

Reform Youth Professionals’ Association (RYPA)
Become a member of this new professional association created especially for YOU.  After nearly two years of planning, RYPA was officially launched at the URJ Biennial in December. This new organization will provide leadership, vision, community and advocacy for youth professionals from throughout North America. Join today and your membership will be valid through June of 2013. RYPA will help you stay connected to your colleagues and remain current on promising practices in youth engagement. Visit the RYPA website to join and for information about upcoming professional development webinars.

Help Your Congregants Select a URJ Youth or College Program

URJ KESHER Birthright Trips
Be a hero, and give your high school seniors the ultimate graduation gift—a free trip to Israel! As a URJ Congregational Youth Worker, you can give priority status to 18-26 year olds in your community when they register for a URJ KESHER Birthright trip!  Send us the names and email addresses of any 18-26 year olds who would like to participate in a Birthright trip, and if they register for a trip with URJ KESHER, we’ll give them priority status. Registration details are at; send all priority names and email addresses to

Youth Committee Resources

We Can Welcome Every Youth
Rabbi Steve Weitzman talks about how we, as a Movement, must welcome all of our youth regardless of their needs—whether academic or physical—in our congregations and our camps. (Learn more about our special needs camp and Israel programs.) Read more »

Youth Programs

Spotlight on 2012 Summer Teen Programs:

NFTY in Israel $400 Early-bird discount extended to January 15!
Spread the word to all who are considering taking part in one of our five phenomenal summer programs in Europe and Israel, including the brand new NFTY’s Shir Chadash, a six week intensive choral tour of Europe and Israel, and NFTY’s Bridge to Israel, a three week tour in Israel for teens with special needs.

Send your teen leaders to the NFTY Leadership Experience at Kutz Camp
Kutz offers teens in grade 10-12 a custom-made summer leadership program. Participants choose from a variety of leadership opportunities to create a summer experience that will be meaningful, challenging and fun! The Temple Youth Group leadership major is perfect for up and coming teen leaders in your congregation.

NFTY Mitzvah Corps—A Social Action Summer
Mitzvah Corps teens spend two to six weeks living in a community of NFTYites engaged in hands-on social action. They will have a direct impact on communities in need at project sites in Costa Rica, San Francisco, New Orleans and New Jersey.

Machon Kaplan Social Action Summer Internship is Now Free!
Deadline: February 3
As part of the URJ's CYE, the Machon Kaplan Internship, a six-week work/study internship program for college students based out of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, is FREE. From June 10-July 22, 2012, college students will experience real-world public policy work and learn about Judaism and social justice. The program provides housing and college academic credits.

Parent/Family Resources

NFTY-SW: A Parent-Advisor’s Perspective
Cheryl Gardner, a NFTY Southwest region advisor and NFTY parent, recounts her first NFTY-parent experience.

The NFTY Blog – News from Deep in the Heart of NFTY’s Regions!
Read what's happening in NFTY's regions through the lens of NFTYites themselves! Teens from virtually every region have contributed posts with event recaps, special stories and memorable moments.

Space is limited! Make sure your teens are registered for NFTY regional events this winter!

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