Michelle Shapiro Abraham, MAJE, RJE

Michelle Shapiro Abraham, MAJE, RJE

Inside Leadership
Two smiling teenage siblings sharing headphones and watching a laptop screen while sitting on a couch together

Just because we can’t physically be together doesn’t mean we can’t come together as a community. In fact, these are the most important times for us to support one another and maintain some sense of normalcy.

I’ve been inspired by the Reform Jewish professionals and leaders, as well as those within the greater Jewish community, who are creating spaces for people to gather and have fun during these troubling times.

Here are a few easy-to-implement examples to try in your community – and while the language here is geared toward teen engagement, these ideas can be adapted for...

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Teen leaders at a Reform Jewish teen gathering

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

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Three young people playing guitars at a summer camp worship service

The Reform Movement has a long, distinguished history of lifting souls and spirits with music – in worship and beyond. In summer camps, synagogues, and youth group gatherings, songleaders create new arrangements, borrow from beloved composers, and rock out to updated versions of old favorites. Perhaps more than anything else in the Jewish world, music has the power to bring our community together. “When we lift our voices in song, we exemplify the best of Reform Judaism: committed, joyful, and connected,” says Cantor Rosalie Will Boxt, the Union for Reform Judaism (URJ) director of worship...

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A group of high school students sitting on the floor, each holding a guitar

Jewish thought leader, Dr. Tali Zelkowicz, teaches that we often view Jewish life as a precarious, fragile existence always on the brink of destruction. This “china shop” view of Jewish history sees everything – from the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem to the Enlightenment – as proof that we need to fiercely protect our tradition.

Dr. Zelkowicz also teaches us, however, that we could view these same moments in Jewish history as a “jungle gym.” In every generation Jews take leaps of faith to reimagine what Jewish life might look like. Indeed, change has been our constant – as...

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Whether it’s in our congregations, at our camps, or in a NFTY program, we do everything we can to offer a safe and familiar environment in which children, teens, and young adults can explore Reform Jewish values. Living those values outside of these safe spaces can be more challenging, and requires courage, perseverance, and resilience in the face of setbacks and disappointment.

Reform Jewish teens are a model for how to build on the foundations of our movement and turn their ideas into actions focused on tikkun olam —healing the world.

Each of the teens below is a part of...

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