By Shira Hoffer. Shira is a 9th grade member of MANTY at Temple Adath Yeshurun in Manchester, NH.
This fall, the Northeast Teen Collective’s first annual Northeast Leadership Summit at URJ Camp Eisner inspired over 250 Jewish teens to create projects and initiatives about issues important to them. The Northeast Teen Collective is an ambitious initiative to increase the number of teens participating in Jewish life throughout New York, New Jersey, and New England. The Collective empowers highly engaged teens to use their individual passions as inspiration to create meaningful Jewish experiences that will capture the interest of their less involved friends. Through Machon Summer Leadership Institute at URJ Eisner and Crane Lake Camps, the Dana Gershon and Rabbi Jonah Pesner Northeast Leadership Summit, and ongoing Pop-up and Co-op Events—all powered by the Union for Reform Judaism in partnership with Combined Jewish Philanthropies and the Jim Joseph Foundation—the Collective inspires more young Jewish teens to embrace Jewish life and community as a path to meaning, purpose, and joy.
As a participant at the first-ever Northeast Leadership Summit, I was inspired by the realness of what we did. Not only did I learn new skills, like marketing, but I also helped to create real initiatives and projects that are already impacting so many (see #SharkTankMuseum for more details). Even more, the volunteer staff of more than 50 educators included some real giants in the Jewish world and as well as some personal role models, such as Rabbi Jonah Pesner and Rabbi Everett Gendler. Just to be in the same room with them and to get a chance to hear them speak was incredibly empowering! The Summit had four main learning themes: Gender and Sexuality, Israel, Mussar and Mindfulness, and Social Justice. I was inspired by one of the workshops about Israel to work with my friends to create a new initiative focused on Israel education and advocacy called Yallah Israel.