Learn more about this exciting new platform, where Reform congregational leaders connect with colleagues and peers who have similar concerns, interests and responsibilities.
It helps me feel more a part of the community to be in charge. I’m not just going to Shabbat services and not knowing what to do, who to talk to, where to sit…. If I’m leading the service, then I don’t need to worry about any of that. I know I’m standing in front of the room and I know people will talk to me. I don’t need to worry about having plans on Friday night because I’m a leader and they expect me to be at the service. I’m being held accountable for showing up. It just makes me feel more comfortable, accepted, and a part of things.
– Reform Jewish college leader
Whether we come into Jewish communal leadership through elections, applications, enrolling in programs, choosing to step-up or even being “voluntold,” we know in our gut that we choose to be Jewish leaders because it brings us joy, gives us a sense of purpose, ties us to our community, and grounds us. If we are really good at this work and truly blessed, our efforts to lead and bring others in with us moves our world to one that is more whole, just, and compassionate.
A year ago, the Union for Reform Judaism (URJ) set out to explore how we can support teens who choose leadership as their path into Judaism. We held conversations with more than 350 teens and adults who see themselves as leaders in our movement, asking asked them: “What skills and knowledge do you believe leaders need today and tomorrow?”
Six core ideas emerged. When we explored them with the members of the North American board of NFTY: The Refom Jewish Youth Movement, they called them “practices,” they said, “because they aren’t things you master, they are ways of being that you are always working on.”
We were inspired by this thinking and are excited that we are now applying these practices to all teen programming. We encourage you to explore these six practices – and some of the coaching questions developed for conversations, mentoring, and reflection – to see how you can apply them in your own community.
Leaders work to hold tradition and innovation in dynamic tension while they embrace transition and view “reforming” as a healthy part of organizational life.
Looking “backward from the future,” leaders have the courage and empathy to see different perspectives and craft new, original ideas.
Leaders strive to embrace Judaism as a resource for strength and endurance, bringing in Jewish wisdom and practice that helps them and their community flourish.
Leaders have enough humility to recognize their limitations and seek out a diversity of sacred partners to share the responsibilities.
Leaders surround themselves with diverse, thoughtful community members who share their commitment and excitement.
Leaders view disagreements as “conflicts for the sake of heaven” and create environments in which issues can be debated with curiosity, openness, and bravery.