Union for Reform Judaism Receives Grant to Expand Youth Engagement with New Youth Professionals Training Program

Contact: Lauren Theodore at 212-650-4154

January 5, 2017, New York, NY – Continuing the success of the Union for Reform Judaism’s (URJ) Campaign for Youth Engagement, the URJ announces the Youth Professional Training Fellowship for early career youth professionals in congregations. This new fellowship, funded by a $141,000 three-year Signature grant from the Covenant Foundation, builds on existing URJ professional development programming for adults who work with youth. Covenant Foundation grantees are Jewish organizations and initiatives with novel and imaginative approaches to Jewish learning and wide geographic reach.

The Youth Professional Training Fellowship targets professionals entering their first or second year of service in the field of youth engagement. The fellowship will include cohort based learning around Jewish content, vision, and implementation and give participants the opportunity to learn from both peers and experienced professionals from the field. The program will launch in Fall 2017 with the application process beginning in the spring. The URJ team will work closely with the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion to plan and implement the fellowship.

This initiative will be led by Michelle Shapiro Abraham, Project Director and URJ Director of Learning and Innovation, and a 2015 Covenant Award recipient for excellence in Jewish education, who said, “By providing new youth professionals with a community to support them and the knowledge they need to do their work, we can help them build stronger connections to Jewish life for their teens on the local, regional, and national levels.”

URJ Vice President of Youth Miriam Chilton said, “Over the past three years the URJ has increased resources and programming devoted to professional development, tripling the number of adults taking part in a variety of professional development opportunities. Expanding professional development offerings is a strategic priority for the URJ because research documents that quality interactions and relationships are what lead to higher levels of Jewish living and learning.”

“HUC-JIR is thrilled to partner with the URJ on this important initiative. We are uniquely able to bring decades of expertise in training educators and youth professionals in best practices, deep textual engagement and experiential education. These new youth professionals are the future of the field – they are at the forefront of emerging young adult Jewish identity formation, and many will become our future Jewish leadership,” said Rabbi Rachel Sabath Beit-Halachmi, National Director of Recruitment and Admissions; President’s Scholar; Director, Office of Community Engagement.


About the Union for Reform Judaism

The Union for Reform Judaism (URJ) builds community at every level—from the way we collaborate with congregations, organizations, and individuals to how we make connections across North America to advance contemporary and inclusive Jewish life. Providing vision and voice to transform the way people connect to Judaism, we help congregations stay relevant and innovative, motivate more young Jews to embrace Jewish living, agitate for a more progressive society, and foster meaningful connections to Israel.

Founded in 1873, URJ has grown into the largest and most powerful force in North American Jewish life, with nearly 900 member congregations and work that inspires, connects, and educates millions of people. Our legacy, reach, leadership, and vision mean that we can unite thousands of years of tradition with a modern, evolving Judaism to strengthen Jewish communities today and for future generations.

Visit us at www.URJ.org to learn about our social justice initiatives, camps and programs for young Jews, services for congregations and communities, and how you can work with us to create a more just, whole, and compassionate world. Enjoy related content at ReformJudaism.org and connect with URJ on Twitter and Facebook.