NFTY founded Dream Street in 1975 with the belief that all kids should have the chance to have fun, make friends, try new experiences, and bring all of their identities to summer camp. Each summer, Dream Street accepts about 60 campers who have disabilities and/or mobility impairments like cerebral palsy, spina bifida, limb differences, and spinal cord injuries.
Related Blog Posts on teens, Youth Engagement, NFTY, and Journal of Youth Engagement
When adults find out about my job as director of URJ 6 Points Creative Arts Academy, many of them say the same thing: "I wish that had existed when I was a kid!" I know how they feel.
There has been a lot happening in the teen and youth space over these past weeks, and many more opportunities are coming down the pipeline.
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.
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.