A few weeks ago, I had the joy of being at the "NFTY-GER Ball," one of the many NFTY events being run by Reform teen leaders across North America. A room full of teens gathered at Temple Sholom in Scotch Plains, NJ to dance, laugh, get to know one another, and celebrate Jewish life.
Related Blog Posts on NFTY, Summer Youth Experiences, Journal of Youth Engagement, and Youth Engagement
We are excited to announce that, thanks to a generous commitment from RootOne LLC (seeded by The Marcus Foundation and powered by The Jewish Education Project), the certificate will now be worth $3,250!* We hope that this increased amount allows all Reform Jewish teens to travel to Israel as a rite of passage.
During the COVID pandemic in southern California, we saw our Jewish communities weaken. From our camp spaces disappearing to our teen youth groups (TYG) struggling, many of us stopped programming and decreased in membership, while a few of us thrived the best way we knew how - by joining forces. For us, as youth directors, advisors, and educators, we knew this was the way to keep teens inspired and engaged with one another.
Summer 2022 was full of opportunities and growth. We celebrated the joy and beauty of camp and Israel experiences, infused intention and meaning in our planning and programming, and enabled campers, summer immersive participants, and staff to create communities of respect and belonging.
We are now solidly in the middle of camp season and our 3,000 dedicated staff are working to ensure that our campers are enjoying the friendship, smiles, ruach (spirit), growth, and love that are all part of the camp experience, while also keeping everyone safe and healthy.
The Susan Zukrow Mackevich Seeds of Compassion Fellowship Grows Connection between Early Jewish Education and Camp
Sometimes an outsider’s perspective yields a beautiful question. Susan Zukrow Mackevich, whose second yahrzeit was April 27, provided that kind of perspective for us at the Union for Reform Judaism (URJ), Early Childhood Educators of Reform Judaism (ECE-RJ), and Chicago-area early childhood Jewish educators.
Almost exactly six years ago, I ran for NFTY-TOR regional president. I lost. And yet when I look back at my election materials in a bout of nostalgia, I stand by absolutely everything I said, now having seen how much the ideas I mentioned still influence me and the way I think about leadership, both personally and as an organizer working with NFTY and Reform Jewish teen leadership.
NFTY has been very busy the past few months and will soon install a new North American board.
My children have learned so much, and have taught me so much, about what it means to be a mensch, a good person, from their summers at Camp Harlam.
On Tu Bishvat we celebrated trees and a season of new growth. I've been doing lots of thinking about trees, as I frequently do, and the role they play in providing oxygen for the planet. At the Union of Reform Judaism, we provide oxygen to our communities by creating compassionate spaces for our participants to grow and thrive. We can respond to current and future challenges by fostering resilience that reflect our Jewish values.