Alexandra Nozik and 12 other young Reform Jews from around the world spent the last day of 2019 at URJ Camp Coleman in Cleveland, GA, where they heard from Director Bobby Harris about his vision for Reform Jewish camping. Their visit was the first of three different week-long intensives in the newly-launched cohort of the Klal Yisrael fellowship, a 10-month program designed to empower young adults in the Reform Movement around the world to realize their collective capacity to effect change inspired by the progressive Jewish values that unite our worldwide movement.
Rabbi Reuven Greenvald
Rabbi Reuven Greenvald is the former director of Israel engagement at the Union for Reform Judaism. His experience in re-thinking Israel engagement comes from work on innovative initiatives in the North American program of the Jewish Agency for Israel.
Within the globalized reality of life today, we need to develop the capacity of young Jews to be in cross-cultural conversations. Klal Yisrael is the laboratory for creating and sustaining a worldwide network of young Jews with a personal stake in strengthening the future of Progressive Judaism around the world.
In light of the bills passed by the Knesset this week, I am asking myself: Is this a crisis point in Israel engagement?
Greetings from URJ Kutz Camp where I am serving on faculty this week. Even in this bucolic setting, the loud cries from and about Israel are stirring conversation and action. Because this URJ community cares about Israel as a place welcoming to all Jews, the concerns expressed by participants and staff come from a place of commitment to Israel and its future.
Israel engagement for young people, like every aspect of Jewish engagement, requires each new generation to make it their own. Although we sometimes talk about Israel’s complexity as one of the most difficult educational challenges in Jewish education, it really is part of the same package of big questions our youth are asking about Judaism’s relevance to living in a diverse, pluralistic, and globalized world. While their questions may challenge us, the act of questioning should be seen as a natural part of their development as well as the Jewish people’s self-renewal.