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Yael Farber, the Director of Youth Engagement at the Community Synagogue of Rye, and her supervisor, Rabbi Leora Frankel participated in the URJ’s Youth Professional 101 Fellowship (YP101) this past year. Coming out of the experience, they took some time to reflect – here’s what they had to say...
The work that we do as youth engagement professionals can sometimes feel idiosyncratic or lonely, but we’ve learned that by having regular touchpoints with others in the field, we can stay connected, discover new ideas, and find helpful partners. Participating in the URJ’s Youth Professional 101 Fellowship (YP101) this year was a valuable and enriching professional development experience that provided that connection.
Admittedly, we were both a little reticent at first to commit to yet another series of meetings, even virtual ones. However, the intentional way the program was structured honored our time and made it a worthwhile commitment. We learned about a wide variety of topics from different teachers – all of whom were dedicated to honoring the wisdom each of us brought to the table and creating a learning lab for us that felt warm and personal, despite the fact that we were physically far away. Additionally, the webinars offered relevant resources that were both thought-provoking and practical, such as conversation protocols, templates to guide our goal-setting, new terminology, and best practices in the field.
Perhaps most valuable, was the opportunity for each of us to build a community of practice with whom we could celebrate successes, debrief and strategize around challenges, and grow. This “safe space” to share case studies and exchange feedback and ideas was very helpful for both the youth directors and supervisors. As a new professional, Yael now has a group of colleagues with whom she can collaborate with as well as lean on for support and advice. Her weekly cohort calls were a perfect mix of text study relating to our work, troubleshooting scenarios, discussing best practices, and celebrating individual successes. Since it was a smaller group, the calls focused intentionally on the specific needs of the group and ensured that the time was productive for everyone.
Although our learning happened in separate meetings, we shared the conversations that we had in our respective networks with each other. Our learning was enriched by being able to continue the conversations and discuss how we could work together to apply new ideas to our own work in our community.
We highly encourage other youth professional-supervisor teams to participate in the fellowship – we know that both ourselves and our synagogue community have truly benefitted from the experience. URJ’s Youth Professionals 101 was helpful in buoying us and reminding us that we are a part of something bigger.
Applications for the 2018-19 Cohort of the Youth Professional 101 Fellowship are due by June 24, 2018 – apply now!