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, teens, 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.
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.
Aaron Wiener, youth director at Temple Emanuel of Beverly Hills, brought together 10 congregations and youth groups from California for an in-person Temple Youth Group Leadership Training Retreat and it was a huge success.
This past summer, our 15 URJ camps across North America and Israel programs provided the space where more than 11,000 children, teens and young adults could breathe free. Summer 2021 was clearly a summer of healing at our camps, as children returned to immersive in-person living, learning, laughing, crying, hugging where they can share their fears and dreams in a loving and accepting environment.
How can centering human experience help build communities of belonging, as well as a Shabbat community?
A San Quentin inmate with a swastika tattooed on his hand greeted us as we stepped off the bus. The year was 1975, and we were a group of 30 counselors in training from Camp Swig (now Camp Newman).
Through the DREAM ISRAEL program, students can access various levels of grant funding toward their semester at URJ Heller High while learning about the act of tzedakah by fundraising for approved philanthropic causes in Israel.