Teen Engagement

Teen Engagement

How do we teach the full story while fostering a love for our homeland? Think of your favorite sports team. A team you would jump to defend in an argument. For me, it’s the Washington Capitals. Now, imagine being at your team’s games. Surrounded by fans from both sides, cheerleaders, and even a couple of merchants. Your team scores a goal and the arena erupts in cheers. Think of your favorite sports team.

Katerina York

With the US presidential election coming up, and change stirring in Jerusalem, our teens don’t shy away from difficult topics. How can we best support their sense of pride in being young Reform leaders?

Miriam Chilton

“When you grow up, you’ll understand.” Have you heard this sentiment recited to young people by parents, and perhaps teachers who didn’t know the answer to a probing question, or were simply hesitant to approach it? It framed generations, in a way. Set boundaries. But in a time when we have just recently witnessed a 17-year-old becoming the youngest Nobel Peace Prize Laureate to date – I’d say the sentiment has expired.

Miriam Chilton

by Kara Liu

Youth engagement is about more than just teens. Rather, effective youth engagement is a whole organism made up of parents, leaders, and the young people themselves.

That’s the main takeaway from my experience at a recent day of professional development at Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion in Los Angeles, organized by Rabbi Bradley Solmsen, director of youth engagement for the Union for Reform Judaism. At the seminar, I came to fully appreciate the network of colleagues who are doing youth engagement work – and I learned that I, too, am a bridge connecting all the entities of youth engagement to my temple family and our youth group.

Three years ago, my congregation set out on a journey to try to create an active teen presence, something our community had been missing. As a part of this effort, we sent our new ninth grade class to a regional NFTY kallah. At the event, our excited teens made new friends, experienced NFTY’s shared history and culture, and immersed themselves in the joys of Reform Judaism. They were a little bit lost when they arrived, but by the end of the weekend, the teens knew one thing: They wanted to bring the magic of NFTY back to our synagogue.

That’s how our youth group began.