Miriam T. Chilton

Miriam T. Chilton

Inside Leadership
NFTY Convention 2019

We just wrapped up an incredible NFTY Convention in Dallas with 1,000 teen leaders, college students, Jewish educators, alumni, and other dedicated supporters.

NFTY Convention is known to shape the future of the Reform Movement, and it did just that. From introducing new Jewish music to mobilizing thousands for gun violence prevention; immersing in innovative learning and building practical skills for youth engagement – every minute was filled with glimpses of the bright Jewish future these young leaders will build.

During the closing plenary, I shared these words:

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Four smiling, laughing teens passing a Torah scroll from one to the next

One of the great joys in my role as vice president of youth for the Union for Reform Judaism is hearing stories from alumni.

I hear stories about how NFTY shaped their Judaism and encouraged them to seek out congregational connections. I hear stories from alumni from interfaith families about how their time at camp forged their Jewish identity and gave them the gift of a Jewish community that extends beyond the walls of their homes. I meet Reform leaders whose first forays into Jewish leadership happened in their congregational youth groups. I love hearing these stories because...

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Campers at URJ Jacobs Camp

Summer is just getting started, so why are we already thinking about what happens when it’s over? Like so many campers and summer program participants (and the adults who staff them), we want summer to last forever. At the same time, we know how much there is to look forward to when our kids and teens return from their summer adventures, bringing their unbridled enthusiasm for Jewish life with them into our congregations.

Here’s a sneak peek of five things to expect at the end of the summer:

Confident, Inspired Kids: After spending a summer gaining independence, making friends... Read More

URJ VP of Youth Miriam Chilton in a red blazer in front of the URJ Biennial logo

This address was presented before the 74th Union for Reform Judaism Biennial convention on Thursday, December 7. You can also download and print a PDF of this speech.

Thank you to Adam and Alyson [who spoke before me here tonight]. These are the amazing participants and young alumni who make up our tribe of movers and shakers – movers and shakers who act and change the world around them.

I love these stories. To me, they show resiliency. Action. Compassion.

Our work embodies what Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel said: “Just to be is a blessing. Just to live is holy.”...

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Smiling teens eating apples dipped in honey

The gates of summer camp are closed. The High Holidays recipe books are open. Our days are filled with preparation and meetings and cooking and school forms as the scent of summer lingers on the cooling air.

As we turn the page on our calendars – or swipe to a new month on our phones – we are acutely aware of this moment in time. Our young people are seeing the same tweets and headlines we’re fretting about. They’re grappling with the role of faith in their lives and the complexities of current events. They’re balancing these big, complicated ideas with the joy and fun and self-...

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