The Journal of Youth Engagement is an online forum of ideas and dialogue for those committed to engaging youth in vibrant Jewish life and living. Join the discussion and become a contributor. On a Friday night this past spring, 26 families shared Shabbat in 7 homes across New York City. They said the blessings, ate their festive meals, and were joined by synagogue staff, who led the groups in activities and songs. This was the fourth such dinner last year. Remarkably, these families were satisfying their Religious School requirement. A growing number of families at Temple Shaaray Tefila are taking part in MASA (“Journeys” in Hebrew), our Temple’s multi-generational education program, now in its seventh year. It offers year-long family “journeys” centered on Jewish topics, as an alternative to our religious school. As part of the program, parents study both with their children and separately with our education staff and clergy, as well as participate in Shabbat and holiday celebrations together with the goal of enhancing their own knowledge and their ability to teach and model Jewish practice for their children. Shaaray Tefila became engaged in the process of examining Jewish learning for our youth in 2006. While our traditional religious school had high enrollment, there was a growing sense that even those students who learned and enjoyed the program the most were often left without a way to connect the learning to their lives outside of the Synagogue. To tackle this disconnect, we participated in the UJA RE-IMAGINE Project, an initiative created by the Hebrew Union College’s Experiment in Congregational Education (ECE) which focuses on innovation and transformational change in congregational education programs. Over a period of nineteen months, we engaged in a formal, progressive exploration that produced plans for MASA, which was designed for families with elementary school aged children. Through a guided process, with a task force representing a cross-section of the Temple, we developed overarching goals that have held up in the 7 years since implementation:
- Build community
- Provide choice and flexibility
- Engage participants in excellent, life-long, inter-generational Jewish learning and living.
- By devoting appropriate resources to improving the traditional program by dramatically increasing teacher training,
- Creating a more blended experiential environment,
- Developing new and engaging curricula and
- Utilize some of our MASA principles to as a means of engaging parents on a deeper level.
August 9, 2022
We are in the third year of High Holidays like no other. As we approach the yamim nora’im (the days of awe) and the festivals that follow, take advantage of the offerings from the URJ to supplement your programming and manage your operations.
August 8, 2022
As part of our ongoing efforts to create safe, respectful, and equitable workplaces, the URJ requires all staff to regularly participate in sexual harassment prevention training classes, provided by Traliant Compliance Training. Now, through the Reform Movement Marketplace, the URJ is making Traliant Compliance Training classes available to our affiliated congregations at a reduced cost.
Organizational Partners in Action: How the Jewish Grandparents Network, URJ, and Keshet Partnered to Support Grandparents of Transgender, Non-binary, and Gender-expansive Youth
August 8, 2022
Along with the Union for Reform Judaism (URJ), the Jewish Grandparents Network (JGN) and Keshet share a commitment to an inclusive Jewish community that reflects and affirms marginalized identities. We realized we could have the greatest impact towards a more inclusive community if we worked together.