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January 20, New York, NY -- Thousands of Jewish teens and adults will come together for the NFTY Convention and Youth Summit February 13 through 17, 2015, in Atlanta, GA. NFTY, which celebrates its 75th anniversary this year, is the Reform Jewish Youth Movement.
NFTY Convention will attract more than 1,000 teens from across North America. They will be joined by nearly 200 adult lay leaders, professionals, congregants, clergy and stakeholders who will attend the concurrent Youth Summit at NFTY Convention.
The Convention will open with an intergenerational Shabbat celebration filled with joyous music, worship and dancing. NFTY's 75th Anniversary will be celebrated throughout the weekend and the event will close with a 'birthday bash' on Monday night, featuring musical performances and distinguished guests. These events will be streamed on the NFTY website, on the JLTV cable television channel and on mobile devices using the JLTV app.
"The exciting new ideas and collaborations that come from participating in NFTY Convention and the Youth Summit will undoubtedly inform and propel the work of youth engagement," said Director of Youth, Miriam Chilton. "I'm delighted so many will be there to be part of building our network."
Highlights of NFTY Convention will include:
Musicians and speakers including: Massachusetts State Senator Eric Lesser; lawyer and former member of the National Council of Disability Matan Koch; singer/songwriter Dan Nichols, Chicago-based musician Alan Goodis; and singer/songwriter Noam Katz
Off-site opportunities in Atlanta will include visits to: Emory University, the Martin Luther King, Jr. Center for Nonviolent Social Change, Ebenezer Baptist Church, CNN Center, and the Georgia State Capitol
Three options for specialized training in social justice advocacy, religious school assistant teaching, and songleading
Election of five leaders for the 2015-16 North American Board of NFTY, the governing body of youth leaders who work to maintain and progress the Reform youth Movement
For the first-time ever, teen participants in NFTY Convention and BBYO's International Convention will meet for learning sessions on more than 80 topics, such as Israel and Middle East relations, philanthropy, and social action
"NFTY Convention will be an amazing opportunity to inspire our core group of youth leaders so that we can celebrate all that we have achieved and think together about how to connect with even more youth," said NFTY President Debbie Rabinovich.
The Youth Summit will be integrated with the NFTY Convention programming, giving teens and adult participants opportunities to study, worship, learn, network and celebrate NFTY's 75th Anniversary together. Highlights will include:
Jonah Pesner, newly-appointed Director of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism (RAC), will give a keynote address at the National Center for Civil and Human Rights
Other speakers will include: President of the Union for Reform Judaism Rick Jacobs; President of Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion (HUC-JIR) Aaron Panken; and National Director of Recruitment and Admissions of HUC-JIR Rabbi Dr. Rachel Sabath Beit-Halachmi
A new targeted track for stakeholders including congregational presidents and board members; youth and education chairs; and philanthropists invested in the future of Jewish youth
Shared Leadership Incubator (SLI) will offer specialized programming for professionals and stakeholders from the same congregations or organizations, resulting in better synergy among delegations
Inaugural Youth Summit intern program: eight college-aged students will help with planning, implementation, and evaluation of the Youth Summit
"It is vital to be connecting to adults who work with youth at the same time that we are expanding our connection to more Jewish teens," said Bradley Solmsen, Director of the Campaign for Youth Engagement. "The Youth Summit at NFTY Convention is positioned to help us support more adults doing effective work engaging more youth. In the end it will lead to even stronger congregations."
For 75 years, NFTY (the Reform Jewish Youth Movement) has offered thousands of young people the opportunity to explore and live Reform Judaism. Through programs that are offered by nearly 500 Reform congregations, 19 geographic NFTY regions, and on a North American level, teens are encouraged to forge Jewish identities in consonance with the values of Reform Judaism. Participation in NFTY helps teens build confidence, friendships and leadership skills through experiential youth-led educational programming including social justice projects, worship, and community-building initiatives. NFTY, open to teens in grades 6-12, is part of the network of programs and camps of the Union for Reform Judaism.
About the Union for Reform Judaism
The Union for Reform Judaism (URJ) is a dynamic network of Reform Jewish congregations, lay leaders, clergy and professionals, which represent the largest and fastest growing constituency of Jews in North America. Our progressive, inclusive approach unites thousands of years of Jewish tradition and values with modern Jewish experience to strengthen Judaism today and for future generations. Through programs, consultations, resources, and networking opportunities provided by the URJ, we help strengthen our nearly 900 member congregations, welcome spiritual seekers through audacious hospitality, engage Jewish youth, deepen Jewish learning, energize worship, pursue tikkun olam (social justice), connect with Israel, and develop inspired leadership.